It is unclear why the Prime Minister has paused his talks after speaking for more than an hour with the Brussels boss. EU sources said Mr Johnson was behind the request and said he would phone back the Commission President when he is ready to do so. One insider said: “They needed the break and they will call us.”
Downing Street are still to comment on the dramatic pause in the call, which is understood to be used to finally decide whether a Brexit trade deal is possible or not.
The pair halted the call for just over an hour before deciding Mr Johnson would travel to Brussels for in-person talks with his EU counterpart.
A joint statement said: “As agreed on Saturday, we took stock today of the ongoing negotiations. We agreed that the conditions for finalising an agreement are not there due to the remaining significant differences on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries.
“We asked our chief negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days.”
The call is said to be a “make-or-break” moment in the wrangling over a post-Brexit free-trade agreement.
Michel Barnier, the bloc’s Brexit chief, has warned talks will not continue beyond Wednesday if they are yet to clinch a deal.
“We are not far from the very endgame but we cannot go further than Wednesday,” the Brussels diplomat told a meeting of MEPs, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
“I cant guarantee we will reach an agreement tonight, we might still have to negotiate tomorrow.”
In a series of private meetings, Mr Barnier said negotiators were still struggling to break the deadlock on the three key remaining issues – fishing opportunities, the so-called level playing field and governance.
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney described the Brussels dealmakers’ assessment of the talks as “gloomy” and “downbeat”.
Published at Mon, 07 Dec 2020 17:49:00 +0000