Brexit WHAT NOW? Five things to watch after Barnier Frost farce

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The Brexit transition period will end on December 31, 2020. After this point, if no deal has been reached, the UK will officially leave the transition period on no-deal terms. Trade talks resumed on Sunday between the EU and UK chief Brexit negotiations but “significant differences” remain unresolved. Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Monday afternoon for the second time in 48 hours in a bid to resolve the contentious issues which are preventing a deal being struck.

However, the two leaders were unable to overcome the three remaining stumbling blocks: fishing, the level-playing field and the deal’s governance.

In a joint statement, the UK Prime Minister and EU Commission President said they had asked negotiators to “prepare an overview of the remaining differences”.

The statement read: “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 chief negotiators for the EU and UK, Michel Barnier and Lord David Frost respectively will today meet to draw up a list of outstanding differences on each side ahead of an EU leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday.

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These disagreements about key policy areas threaten to derail talks completely unless a compromise can be made, with either side standing firm.

The UK is concerned about who will be permitted to fish in its waters after the deal is agreed.

While in terms of the level-playing field, the EU is concerned about the level of financial support the UK could provide to its own firms, which it claims would give them an unfair advantage.

The deal’s governance is another sticking point referencing concern about how any agreement they reach will be enforced.

So what happens now and what should you watch out for? takes a look at what needs to happen for negotiations to progress.

Conditions for a deal

The terms for a deal between the EU and UK are not agreed yet.

A senior Government insider told Politico: “It’s clear this must now continue politically.

“Whilst we do not consider this process to be closed, things are looking very tricky and there’s every chance we are not going to get there.”

Meeting Macron and Merkel

Mr Johnson reportedly wanted important EU leaders to join in on his latest call with President von der Leyen.

However, the German Chancellor and French President had already spoken to Ms von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel earlier in the day.

According to two diplomats, Ms Markel and Mr Macron had assured the Commission of their support for its negotiating team and strategy.

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Boris in Brussels

Mr Johnson is now due to travel to Brussels “in the coming days” – possibly as early as Wednesday – where he will arrange meetings with these key players upon his arrival in order to appeal to them directly.

An in-person summit of EU leaders will begin on Thursday, fuelling speculation of Mr Johnson’s imminent arrival in an attempt to agree a deal ahead of the summit.

This would be the PM’s last opportunity to endeavour to make traction in negotiations.

There is one condition for the timing of the Ms von der Leyen and Mr Johnson meeting according to EU diplomats – that it cannot happen during the leaders’ summit and will not happen on Tuesday.

This means the pair will likely meet sometime between Wednesday and Thursday before the EU summit begins.

Internal Market Bill

MPs voted to reinstate the controversial parts of Mr Johnson’s Internal Market Bill on Monday.

However, in a bid to agree a deal, it is possible Britain could consider removing these clauses which the House of Lords voted against.

The controversial clauses would enable Britain to breach international law, essentially rendering the EU Withdrawal Deal redundant.

Ministers argue the controversial provisions are needed to protect the integrity of the UK and the Good Friday Agreement in the event no trade deal is struck with Brussels by the end of the transition period on December 31.

The EU launched legal action in response to this move in October.


Despite the UK and EU endeavouring to reach a post-Brexit trade deal, both sides have said they would prefer a no-deal outcome rather than conceding to measures deemed unreasonable.

Key EU leaders including Dutch Foreign Minister Staf Blok have been keen to stress they are unwilling to bow to time pressure and bend to measures they are unhappy with.

He said: “We won’t allow ourselves to be rushed by time pressure into concessions that are not reasonable … It’s only December 7.”

He added: “I think we should all — including myself — be available to conclude talks, including some time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve if it has to be and if that leads to a good agreement.”

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