Boris Johnson steps into Brexit negotiations after EU launches legal action against UK

2 October 2020, 08:46 | Updated: 2 October 2020, 09:57

Boris Johnson to step into Brexit negotiations after EU launches legal action
Boris Johnson to step into Brexit negotiations after EU launches legal action. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson is to hold talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen after she announced legal action against the UK over his plans to make changes to the Internal Markets bill.

Downing Street said the purpose of the talk was to "take stock" of negotiations on a post-Brexit free trade deal, Downing Street has said.

It will be the first time he is directly involved with negotiations since June.

The two leaders will speak on Saturday to discuss the "next steps" following the conclusion of the final formal round of talks in Brussels.

READ MORE: EU taking legal action against UK over Brexit deal

The chief negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost were meeting on Friday in the Belgian capital at the end of a week of talks.

Ursula Von Der Leyen said yesterday the EU has taken the first step in legal action against the UK
Ursula Von Der Leyen said yesterday the EU has taken the first step in legal action against the UK. Picture: PA

A No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister will be speaking to President von der Leyen tomorrow afternoon to take stock of negotiations and discuss next steps."

Both sides have acknowledged that time is running out if they are to achieve an agreement before the current Brexit transition period comes to an end at the end of the year.

Mr Johnson has said he is prepared to walk away from the negotiations if there is no agreement by the time of the next EU summit on October 15.

There was no further immediate detail about what Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen will be discussing.

However, the announcement will prompt speculation that they will consider whether sufficient progress had been made for them to authorise a final intensive round of talks - known as "the tunnel" - in an attempt to get a breakthrough.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there were still some "very significant issues" which needed to be resolved if they were to get an agreement.

The main stumbling blocks to an agreement remain the issues of future fishing rights and state aid rules after the transition is over.

The EU has also been angered by Mr Johnson's UK Internal Market Bill which gives ministers the power to override provisions in the Brexit divorce settlement relating to Northern Ireland.

On Thursday, Mrs von der Leyen announced that the commission was taking legal action against the UK for breaching its international treaty obligations in the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, few observers expect the case to end up in court.

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