Boris Johnson prepares to give savage warning at ‘high-level talks’ with EU leaders today

Boris Johnson prepares to give savage warning at ‘high-level talks’ with EU leaders today

The Prime Minister, his chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, and the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove are set to engage in “high-level talks” with Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, and David Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament. UK and EU’s Political Declaration from last autumn outlined that the high-level summit must “take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship”.

Discussions will be held each week between June 29 and July 27 to try to reach a deal.

Number 10 sources said on Sunday that Mr Johnson “will make it clear that the negotiation now needs to be swiftly concluded, with certainty provided to the public and businesses by the autumn at the latest”.

That is later than a due date by “the end of summer” that was being advised by Number 10 late last week.

Mr Johnson will take the opportunity at the virtual encounter to demand a “high-quality Free Trade Agreement” (FTA) that is “consistent with others the EU have agreed, as part of a balanced overall outcome”.

He will also reiterate that the UK will be set to exit the EU “whatever happened” at the end of the 11-month implementation period on December 31, following the UK leaving the EU last January 31.

Last week the UK reassured the EU that it would not request an extension to the Brexit transition period at the end of this year.

A UK Government spokesman added: “The high-level meeting was always envisaged as a moment to push the negotiations forward.

“We now need to get this resolved and deliver certainty for businesses at home and in the EU as soon as possible.

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But sources in Brussels are not expecting that to take place as EU leaders are bust with a week of discussions later this week about the EU bloc’s response to the pandemic crisis.

Raoul Ruperel, a former special adviser to the PM on Europe, told The Telegraph that without any changes on fishing, a level playing field and state aid regulation “there is real risk the negotiations, even with an increased pace, struggle to make any breakthroughs. Which would increase the risk of there being no agreement at the end of the year”.

Shanker Singham, a former Brexit adviser to Liam Fox when he was trade secretary, said that the EU had to understand “that the UK is prepared to trade some economic loss in exchange for independence, and it simply will not be an associated state, like Turkey or the Mediterranean countries”.

“Once the EU understands this, then landing zones become possible for state aids, fisheries and even for the Northern Ireland Protocol, three of the most intractable areas at present,” he said.

It comes as Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader who last week resigned from his position on LBC radio show.

The party leader compared Black Lives Matter demonstrators to the Taliban, told The Telegraph that he was holding a “watching brief” on the discussions.

Mr Farage said he was preoccupied that last week’s move by the UK only to conduct light-touch checks on imports coming in from the Continent from January was “the first slip” in a softening of Brexit.

He said: “If they slip on Brexit then there will be a new insurgent political party in British politics.”

He said: “I am terribly conflicted over this. We need Cummings to be there for the next few weeks, those of us that want Brexit. Because if he suddenly disappeared maybe Boris would go soft. We could finish up extending the transition period.”

He continued: “So whatever I think about him is irrelevant. A big chunk of me says it’s important that he’s there.

“But another part of me can’t help but think of things like that cock-and-bull story about going to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.”

Published at Mon, 15 Jun 2020 02:14:00 +0000