Brexit: No deal ‘more beneficial’ claims Calvin Robinson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a no deal Brexit would be wonderful for the UK on Friday as he gave his assessment of the prospect of a trade deal with the European Union (EU). Mr Johnson said: “Unfortunately, there are two key things where we just can’t seem to make progress. I’ve got to tell you that from where I stand now 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.”
Mrs Von der Leyen has taken over Mr Barnier’s EU negotiation team in recent weeks.
She said: “Positions remain apart on fundamental issues. Our negotiators are working. One way or another in less than three weeks it will be new beginnings for old friends.”
The EU Commission President said it would be understood by Sunday whether or not a deal would be possible before the transition period ends.
Negotiations between the two sides will continue throughout this weekend, with Mrs Von der Leyen and Mr Johnson expected to speak on the matter tomorrow.
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One EU source said they expected talks to extend into next week.
But one senior Government official said no decision had been taken regarding a deal in the UK’s camp.
The source said: “We will have to see where we are on Sunday and make a decision then.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “In the end, the talks will not fail because a few days more are needed.
“We believe that an agreement is difficult but still possible. We will keep negotiating…. as long as a crack of the window is open.”
Mrs Von der Leyen told EU leaders on Friday a no deal Brexit was more probable than the two sides coming to an agreement on fishing and business competition rules.
During a short discussion with the leaders, the Commission President said: “I will not give percentage odds but there is higher probability for no deal than a deal.”
Mrs Von der Leyen and Mr Johnson met on Wednesday for dinner in Brussels, where they were joined by Mr Barnier and Brexit negotiator on the UK’s side, Lord David Frost.
The EU president said she had “repeatedly made clear” to the Prime Minister on Wednesday that “the principle of fair competition” requiring Britain to maintain equivalent trading standards, was a deal-breaker for the EU side.
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She said: “It is only fair that competitors to our own enterprises face the same conditions in our own market.
“But this is not to say that we would require the UK to follow us every time we decide to raise our level of ambition, for example in the environmental field.
“They would remain free sovereigns. We would simply adapt the conditions for access to our market according to the decision of the UK and this would apply vice versa.”
On discussions over access to British waters for EU fisheries, she said: “We haven’t yet found the solution to bridge our differences.
“We understand the UK aspires to control its waters. The UK must, on the other hand, understand the legitimate expectations of European Union fishing fleets.”
In press briefings following the discussions, several Bloc leaders, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, insisted the EU was not trying to limit Britain’s sovereignty as the Prime Minister had previously suggested.
They insisted the UK would be free to set its own rules after January, and the EU was only seeking to defend its business interests by ensuring if there were large scale differences which led to unfair business competition, it could impose tariffs to “level the playing field”.
In turn, Mrs Von der Leyen made it clear Britain could impose its own tariffs on the EU if it failed to keep up with rising British standards.
Mr Johnson and Mrs Von der Leyen have agreed tomorrow, Sunday, December 13, would be the next deadline while the Prime Minister has hinted he will suspend discussions if no movement is apparent from the EU’s side of the coin.
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