Boris Johnson’s negotiations with President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, have been largely unproductive. “Large gaps remain” in the Brexit trade talks, but there is still hope that a deal could be struck.
A statement from the UK said that “a frank discussion” took place about the “significant obstacles which remain in the negotiations”, while von der Leyen left the negotiations, saying that the two sides were still “far apart”. A number 10 spokesperson said it’s unclear whether the divide can be bridged, but that Sunday has been set as a deadline for any final decisions.
They said the two sides had agreed to further discussions over the next few days, and the PM did “not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested”,” the spokesperson said, according to BBC.
“The PM and VDL [von der Leyen] agreed that by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks,” the spokesperson added.
“We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend,” von der Leyen said after the talks, which she described as “lively and interesting”, while saying that both camps fully “understand each other’s positions”.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has come under criticism for failing to deliver on promises that he made about the Brexit trade talks.
“One year after Boris Johnson promised us an oven-ready deal he has completely failed,” said Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner. “The failure to deliver the deal he promised is his and his alone.”
“A no deal would be a massive failure of diplomacy and leadership which Boris Johnson has to take ownership of,” tweeted SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
However, Johnson’s allies urged caution, with Tory Brexitier, MP John Baron, saying that a no deal outcome would be preferable to a rushed idea, reserving praise for Johnson in his decision to “stand firm” in his demands.
“We must remember a trade deal is for keeps, not just for Christmas,” he said. “We all want a deal, but it has to be a good deal because as we’ve said many times before, no deal is better than a bad deal.”
The EU and the UK have until 31 December 2020 to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights. A no deal will result in border checks and taxes being introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU. But deal or no deal, there will still be big changes on the horizon.