The pair will wrestle over the remaining conflicts holding up an agreement over dinner. Fishing rights, fair competition and state aid rules are all sticking points which EU and UK negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost have failed to break the deadlock on.
After the Prime Minister and European Commission President spoke by phone last night it was agreed a face to face meeting was the best chance of clinching a trade deal before the end of the EU transition period on December 31.
This evening Mr Johnson is being briefed by Lord Frost on the remaining areas of contention in No10 ahead of the crunch meeting.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The PM will travel to Brussels tomorrow for dinner with VDL to continue discussions on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.”
Ms von der Leyen said on Twitter: “I look forward to welcoming UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tomorrow evening.
“We will continue our discussion on the Partnership Agreement.”
Tomorrow’s negotiations could be the last chance for the UK and EU to strike a trade deal with Mr Johnson saying he is prepared to return to Britain empty-handed if Brussels fails to row back on its demands.
The Prime Minister said this morning there comes a point when it is time to draw stumps” and accept a deal is not possible.
He said: “We will see where we get to in the course of the next two days, but I think the UK Government’s position is that we are willing to engage at any level, political or otherwise, we are willing to try anything.
“But there are just limits beyond which no sensible, independent government or country could go and people have got to understand that.”
He added progress on a deal was proving “very, very difficult” but he hoped the EU would see the “power of sweet reason”.
While eager to secure a trade pact, Mr Johnson has said Britain will “prosper mightily” even if no deal is agreed and the UK and EU trade on World Trade Organisation terms from January 1.
Mr Johnson briefed his Cabinet this morning that he would not compromise on his red lines and it would be the EU who would need to give way if a deal was to be done.
The Prime Minister’s colleagues were said to support the position.
Asked if there could be a deal without a change of the EU’s mandate, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said this afternoon: “We’ve been clear on our negotiating position around the need for any agreement to respect our sovereignty. That remains the case.
“The purpose of the in-person meeting will be to see if there is a political way through.
“It remains the Prime Minister’s ambition to reach a free trade agreement.”
Tonight the EU is standing firm on its position and showing little sign it is about to make concessions to the UK.
Brussels has said it remains united in its negotiations and that it is Britain which must compromise if it wants a deal.
Mr Barnier said in a tweet: “Briefed all Member States at the General Affairs Council today. Full unity.
“We will never sacrifice our future for the present.
“Access to our market comes with conditions.”
Time is running out for a trade deal to be agreed between the UK and Brussels if it is to have time to go through the necessary ratification process before the December 31 deadline.
The House of Commons and the European Parliament must both sign off on the deal once it has been negotiated.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman did not rule out MPs sitting through Christmas if necessary to ensure a deal gets ratified in time.
Published at Tue, 08 Dec 2020 17:51:00 +0000