Boris Johnson meets Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels
Express.co.uk readers can vote in our poll on whether they think a deal will be in sight by Sunday when the Prime Minister and the European Commission President are due to speak. It comes as talks between chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier are continuing late into the night in Brussels.
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen both agreed following a dinner meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that a firm decision on the future of negotiations was needed by the end of the weekend.
But a Government source tonight said the terms offered by the EU on a trade deal continue to be “unacceptable” to the UK.
The source said: “Talks are continuing overnight, but as things stand the offer on the table from the EU remains unacceptable.
“The Prime Minister will leave no stone unturned in this process, but he is absolutely clear: any agreement must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks’ time.”
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Fishing rights and the so-called level playing field remain the major sticking points in trade talks.
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen have both warned that a no-deal outcome looks more likely than an agreement.
Speaking during a visit to Blyth in Northumberland on Friday, the Prime Minister said: “Unfortunately at the moment, as you know, there are two key things where we just can’t seem to make progress.
“And that’s this kind of ratchet clause they’ve got in to keep the UK locked in to whatever they want to do in terms of legislation, which obviously doesn’t work.
“And then there is the whole issue of fish where we’ve got to be able to take back control of our waters.
“So there is a way to go – we’re hopeful that progress can be made.
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“But I’ve got to tell that from where I stand now, here in Blyth, it is looking very, very likely that we will have to go for a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK, and we’d be able to do exactly what we want from January.
“It obviously would be different from what we’d set out to achieve but I have no doubt this country can get ready and, as I say, come out on World Trade terms.”
The Government has stepped up preparations for no deal when the transition period ends on December 31.
Four Royal Navy boats are on standby to patrol UK fishing waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The 80-metre vessels would guard British waters from EU trawlers if there is no new agreement on fishing rights from the end of the year.
Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, branded the Royal Navy threat “irresponsible”.
But Admiral Lord West, a former chief of naval staff, said it was “absolutely appropriate” for the Royal Navy to protect UK waters from foreign fishing vessels if asked to do so in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is that we are a sovereign state and our Government has said we don’t want other nations there.”
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