Boris Johnson is set for crunch talks with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow amid hopes of breakthrough on trade deal – despite Brussels threatening to SUE the UK
- Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen are due to hold talks on trade tomorrow
- Comes amid hopes of progress in the fraught negotiations on a post-Brexit deal
- The two sides could enter intensive ‘tunnel’ phase in last push for compromise
Boris Johnson is set for crucial talks with the EU commission chief tomorrow amid hopes of a breakthrough in trade talks.
The PM and Ursula von der Leyen will ‘take stock’ of progress in the fraught negotiations to ‘discuss next steps’, No10 said.
The move will fuel speculation that the deadlock in the discussions could be on the verge of breaking, after the British side tabled new proposals on the key areas of fisheries and state aid.
The UK’s Lord Frost and Michel Barnier are due to meet this morning after another week of behind-closed doors efforts to thrash out a compromise.
If they can see a way through, the two sides could decide to enter ‘the tunnel’ – an intensive phase of negotiations where both sides work on the same legal text amid high secrecy.
Both sides will continue trade talks next week and until a summit of the bloc’s leaders on October 15-16, sources told Reuters this morning.
This week’s round of negotiations between the EU and London on a new trade agreement after Brexit, the last scheduled, failed to resolve all the outstanding issues, the sources said.
It comes despite Ms von der Leyen dramatically confirming yesterday that the EU is launching legal action against the UK for breaking the terms of the divorce terms in the Withdrawal Agreement.
The PM (left) and Ursula Von Der Leyen (right) will ‘take stock’ of progress in the fraught negotiations to ‘discuss next steps’, No10 said
The UK’s Lord Frost (left) and Michel Barnier (right) are due to meet this morning after another week of behind-closed doors efforts to thrash out a compromise
Brussels had given Downing Street until the end of September to scrap the Prime Minister’s controversial proposals which are contained within the UK Internal Market Bill.
But the UK Government refused to budge and Ms von der Leyen said this morning that as a result the bloc has now started legal proceedings.
It has sent a ‘letter of formal notice’ to Number 10 which is the first step in the so-called ‘infringement procedure’ which could ultimately result in Britain being fined.
Speaking in Brussels she said: ‘This draft Bill is by its very nature a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.
‘More over if adopted as is it will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland/Northern Ireland.
‘The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed.
‘Therefore this morning the Commission has decided to send the letter of formal notice to the UK Government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.
‘The letter invites the UK Government to send its observations within a month and besides this the Commission will continue to work hard towards a full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. We stand by our commitments.’
Downing Street said it ‘will respond to the letter in due course’ as it defended the approach it has taken.
‘We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland Protocol,’ a Government spokesman said.
‘We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure Ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process.’