Boris Johnson will hold talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday amid faltering negotiations on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
The prime minister will take part in a “high level” video conference call with von der Leyen after the two sides agreed to an “intensified” round of discussions in a bid to make progress on key areas of disagreement.
Britain on Friday ruled out extending its current transition period with the EU, which sees continued tariff-free access to the single market until he end of 2020.
The UK and EU remain at loggerheads on a string of issues, including access to Britain’s fishing waters after Brexit; Britain’s objections to a so-called ‘level playing field’ of rights and standards in any future trade tie-up; governance of any trade deal; and future security cooperation between the two sides.
Johnson will stress that the UK is still seeking an “ambitious” free trade agreement with the bloc, but is expected to say that Britain remains willing to walk away from an agreement and begin trading on World Trade Organisation terms from January 1 if none is forthcoming.
A UK government official told the Financial Times: “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.”
The PM will be joined on the call by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who has led talks on last year’s divorce deal between Britain and the EU, as well as the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost.
Monday’s talks come ahead of a host of further videoconferences pencilled in to begin on June 29, with the two sides also aiming for face-to-face contact in spite of the strict curbs on travel imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.