'Large gaps' remain after trade talks with Ursula von der Leyen

# 10 December 2020 13:07 (UTC +04:00)

Boris Johnson's dinner with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen - aimed at breaking the Brexit trade deadlock - has ended without agreement, APA reports citing BBC.

Downing Street said "very large gaps remain" but talks will continue, with a "firm decision" by Sunday on whether a deal can be reached. Mrs von der Leyen said the two sides were still "far apart". Talks between the UK's chief negotiator Lord Frost and the EU's Michel Barnier will resume in Brussels later. The two negotiators also attended the three-hour dinner meeting between the two leaders.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said the evening had "plainly gone badly" and the chances of the UK leaving the post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year without a firm arrangement was a "big step closer". Time is running out to reach a deal before 31 December, when the UK stops following EU trading rules. Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition rules and how a deal will be policed.

The dinner was seen as a last-ditch opportunity to work through the main sticking points and for the two sides to try and find some common ground. If at first you don't succeed you can try and try. But eventually, sometimes failure is what follows.

That now seems the likely outcome of months of talks designed to create a smooth path for the country towards a different future - a deal that, in theory, would ease the junction from membership of a huge trading bloc to a world outside.

There is a chance still that a couple of frantic days could result in a change. The prime minister could decide that after all, the potential disruption of no deal is just too great to risk. The EU president might be able to persuade continental leaders to budge, as they gather in Brussels today. But the chance of reassessing and refreshing the efforts seem now remote.