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UK and EU leaders to go extra mile to secure a Brexit trade deal

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to “go the extra mile” in order to secure a Brexit trade deal as resumption as talks resume.

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to “go the extra mile” in order to secure a Brexit trade deal as resumption as talks resume.

Brexit trade talks continue

Despite Boris Johnson playing down expectations following a phone call with Ursula von der Leyen, EU embassies in Brussels were briefed that “progress has been made” as UK negotiators are expected to stay in Brussels until at least Tuesday. Government sources estimated the chances of no deal at 80% at the weekend. Johnson had said on Friday that it was “very, very likely” the talks would end in failure. On Sunday, which had been previously been presented as a point by which a “firm decision” would be made on the prospects of a trade and security deal, the leaders held a call in which they agreed to extend talks again.

Straight after the phone call, Von der Leyen and Johnson released a joint statement saying: “Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.”

In a separate statement, the PM briefed the cabinet to be ready for a no-deal exit saying:

The commission is very determined to keep the negotiations the way that they have been done between us, and that’s fine,” he said. “The most likely thing now is of course that we have to get ready for WTO [World Trade Organization] terms, Australia terms, and don’t forget everybody, we’ve made huge preparations for four and a half years … perhaps more intensively in the last couple of years. I think that the UK should continue to try. And I think that’s what the people of this country would want me to do. We’re going to continue to try and we’re going to try with all our hearts and we’ll be as creative as we possibly can. But what we can’t do is compromise on that fundamental nature of what Brexit is all about.

The EU President travelled to Paris on Sunday to see Emmanuel Macron for a pre-scheduled dinner. In Berlin, Angela Merkel said the EU “should try everything” to get an agreement.

Boris Johnson said the UK and the EU “remain very far apart on these key issues”, adding: “Let’s see what we can achieve … if Ursula is optimistic, then that’s great … as far as I can see there, there are some serious and very difficult issues that currently separate the UK from the EU.”

The biggest problem in negotiations has been the EU’s insistence on an “evolution” or “ratchet” clause in the treaty that would bind the UK to the EU’s environmental, social and labour standards and would allow the EU Commission to penalise the UK from any deviations from European law. This proposal has been found to be outrageous by Downing Street considering it would take away the UK’s basic sovereignty and allow it to be dictated to by foreign powers which is the very reason why Britain is leaving the EU.

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