UK’s Johnson says ‘long way apart’ from EU on Brexit talks

‘If we have to go for an Australian solution, that’s high-quality,’ says PM, with fewer than three weeks till nation leaves EU’s single market.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on Tuesday that Britain and the European Union stay far aside, as he prepares to move to Brussels to attempt to salvage a post-Brexit commerce deal.

“I am always hopeful, but I have to be honest with you, the situation at the moment is tricky,” he stated, touring a hospital in London for Britain’s historic rollout of a coronavirus vaccine.

“Our friends have to understand the UK has left the EU to exercise democratic control. We are a long way apart still,” he added, forward of face-to-face talks with EU fee chief Ursula von der Leyen later this week.

“It is looking very difficult at the moment. We will do our level best. I would say to everybody there are great options ahead for our country.”

Asked if he would attempt to do a deal proper up till the wire, Johnson stated: “Yeah, of course.”

“We’re always hopeful but you know there may come a moment when we have to acknowledge that it’s time to draw stumps and that’s just the way it is,” stated Johnson, referring to a cricketing time period for the tip of play.

“We will prosper mightily under any version and if we have to go for an Australian solution then that’s fine too.”

After the negotiating groups’ newest session in Brussels – and with simply over three weeks till Britain leaves the EU’s single market on December 31 – Johnson held a cellphone name with von der Leyen late on Monday and secured an invite to move over in particular person.

“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,” the pair stated in a joint assertion.

“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.”

It was not instantly clear whether or not Johnson’s go to could be a separate occasion, or whether or not he is likely to be slotted in earlier than an EU summit on Thursday, with the 27 EU leaders assembly in particular person.

The announcement of Johnson’s journey got here after a pessimistic day of talks, throughout which EU negotiator Michel Barnier instructed sceptical members of the European Parliament that Wednesday was the efficient deadline for an answer forward of the summit.

Barnier and UK counterpart David Frost have been resulting from maintain one other session on Tuesday in Brussels, to assessment their progress and draw up a report for his or her leaders.

“Both sides will undertake additional efforts to reach a deal,” Germany’s Europe minister Michael Roth stated.

“We wish to attain a deal, however not at any worth. What we want is political will in London.

“Let me be very clear: our future relationship is based on trust and confidence. It is precisely this confidence which is at stake in our negotiations right now.”

Sticking factors

In one olive department, the UK authorities stated it was able to revoke clauses in Brexit laws which have provoked authorized motion by the EU and undermined belief in London.

However, it stored the clauses intact as a “fall-back option” when the Internal Market Bill returned to debate within the House of Commons on Monday.

MPs voted to maintain them within the textual content, rejecting a bid by the higher House of Lords to excise them.

Britain left the EU on January 31 and entered a transition interval to permit negotiations to determine a commerce relationship with zero tariffs and nil quotas.

Sources agree the toughest challenge has been tips on how to assure truthful commerce in future ties and set up a fast penalty mechanism if both aspect have been to backtrack on, for instance, environmental or well being requirements.

The EU fears Britain slashing its rules, which may enable its corporations to undercut European corporations.

But Britain may be very reluctant to simply accept a broad and binding association, seeing it as an infringement of its new-found sovereignty after 47 years of European integration.

Fishing additionally stays a sticking level.