News that PM will meet European commission president comes as Michel Barnier says possibility of offer is ‘really slim’
The future of Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe will hold on the success of a supper in between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Wednesday, it has emerged, as the EU’s chief arbitrator alerted the possibility of a Brexit offer was now “really slim”.
Downing Street said the prime minister would sign up with the European commission president at its Berlaymont headquarters on Wednesday night, where the leaders would look for to break the Brexit impasse over a three-course meal.
Johnson will take prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons prior to flying from RAF Northolt to Brussels to dine with Von der Leyen, armed with a memo from his chief arbitrator, David Frost, on the staying obstacles to a historic trade and security deal with the EU. He will return to Downing Street after the discussions.
Not a meal offer however a menu for the Brexit trade talks– thought of!
Von der Leyen tweeted on Tuesday: “I look forward to welcoming UK prime minister Boris Johnson tomorrow evening. We will continue our discussion on the collaboration agreement.”
No 10 sources pushed back on rumours that Johnson had actually wanted to postpone the meeting to enable the 27 EU heads of state and federal government to intervene in the discussions when they collect at the European council summit in the Belgian capital on Thursday. They firmly insisted the prime minister “unconditionally wants to avoid” such a circumstance.
An offer is not expected to be sealed at the supper but Downing Street said if there was progress and goodwill, the distressed negotiations could be expected to resume on Friday after the council summit.
EU leaders will be notified of any progress when they meet, or might trigger the bloc’s no-deal contingency measures– keeping planes in the sky and borders safe– if the dinner ends in failure.
” It will continue previous [Wednesday] if they can make some headway and it’s worth it,” one senior UK official stated. Downing Street said it was open to continuing talks into the weekend and beyond, but worried absolutely nothing could go on previous 1 January.
” We have actually been clear that the future relationship needs to be concluded by the end of the year and settlements won’t continue in the new year,” a No 10 spokesperson stated. “That’s been our position throughout.”
Speaking in personal to EU ministers on Tuesday, the bloc’s chief arbitrator, Michel Barnier, who has actually up until now withstood calls from some member mentions to set off the commission’s no-deal contingency strategies, confessed that such procedures might soon be necessary given the small chances of success.
” We are close to the minute of needing immediate steps which suggests a contingency plan for no deal,” Barnier stated, according to EU sources. “The basis of our future cooperation with the UK is more vital than rushing now. We can not sacrifice our long-lasting interests for short-term political objectives.”
Johnson and Von der Leyen agreed on Monday evening to hold a make-or-break conference with just 3 weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU’s single market and custom-mades union, with or without a deal.
Frost travelled back to London on Tuesday night to inform Johnson after finalising an agenda with his EU counterpart making up the key remaining differences to be discussed in the top.
Barnier had actually stated earlier in the week that he might not negotiate beyond midweek due to a Commons vote on Wednesday on new legislation which would once again break international law by bypassing clauses in the withdrawal contract.
However Downing Street’s decision on Tuesday to abandon all the Brexit stipulations associating with Northern Ireland in both the internal market and finance costs got rid of that challenge to more talks.
Maroš Šefčovič, the commission’s vice-president, who has actually been dealing with the Cabinet Workplace minister, Michael Gove, stated the relocation “removed one huge barrier”.
He stated: “I hope this will produce positive momentum for the discussions on the free trade contract. We’re still really far apart and we’re not concealing this from anyone. We have actually gotten rid of one big barrier from the way and I hope we will see the favorable results also originating from this really intricate settlements.”
The European commission’s chief spokesman stated Johnson and Von der Leyen would not be sealing a deal however looking for factor to “progress hopefully with negotiations, which might hopefully continue after that … This is uncharted area– we’ll need to see how this meeting goes.”
Previously on Tuesday, Johnson stated protecting an offer would be “very, extremely challenging”. “You have actually got to be optimistic, you have actually got to think there’s the power of sweet reason to get this thing over the line,” he said. “But I’ve got to inform you it’s looking very, extremely difficult at the moment.
” We’ll do our best, but I would just say to everybody– be in great cheer, there are great choices ahead for our country on any view.”
Asked if he would attempt to do an offer right approximately the wire, Johnson told reporters: “Yeah, naturally. We’re constantly confident but you know there may come a moment when we have to acknowledge that it’s time to draw stumps which’s just the way it is …
” We will flourish mightily under any version and if we have to go for an Australian solution then that’s great too.” Australia and the EU do not have an open market offer and there are tariffs on items, consisting of 48% on lamb and 84% on beef.
Johnson’s cabinet met on Tuesday early morning and a spokesman said it was merged around the existing position. “We undoubtedly want to continue to try to reach an open market contract, that has been our position throughout,” the representative said. “But the cabinet likewise concurs that any agreement should respect our sovereignty and allow us to reclaim control of our money, laws and borders.”
Germany’s European affairs minister, Michael Roth, said the outcome of the top would depend upon the UK government’s “political will” to seal an offer. He said: “What we require is political will in London. Let me be extremely clear: our future relationship is based upon trust and self-confidence. It is specifically this confidence that is at stake in our negotiation right now.”
Clément Beaune, France’s European affairs minister, said his federal government would not be rushed into an arrangement that was not in its interests. “If when we take a look at it we see that it is not as great as not having a deal, we will not hesitate to ban it– as holds true with every other European nation who will do this evaluation.”