Boris Johnson and the EU have set a Sunday deadline for a “firm decision” on the fate of their future-relationship negotiations after three hours of talks in Brussels laid bare the divisions between the two sides.
A UK government official said that “very large gaps remain between the two sides” following a dinner in Brussels between Mr Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. The encounter was billed by both sides as an attempt to overcome the impasse in negotiations with barely three weeks left until Britain leaves the single market.
The two leaders “agreed to further discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams” and that “by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks”, the official said.
Talks are deadlocked over how to preserve fair competition for businesses and over the fate of EU fishing rights in UK waters. Ms von der Leyen will debrief EU leaders on the outcome of her discussions with Mr Johnson at a summit on Thursday.