Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen to speak at 7pm

17 December 2020, 18:15 | Updated: 17 December 2020, 18:49

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak at 7pm
Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak at 7pm. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at 7pm tonight, Downing Street has said.

The pair are due to discuss the state of Brexit talks as they go down to the wire in Brussels.

There have been positive signs in recent days that suggest both sides have compromised on some of the most contentious issues.

But Number 10 downplayed the chances of a breakthrough, suggesting it would only be a stocktake rather than a deal.

It is reported that the UK and EU teams remain strongly opposed to each other's proposals for fisheries.

Read more: Michael Gove says chance of Brexit deal 'less than 50%'

Read more: Welsh Government threatens legal action over controversial Brexit bill

Earlier on Thursday Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said he believes the chances of an agreement are "less than 50%".

Giving evidence to the Commons Brexit Committee, Mr Gove said the "most likely outcome" was that the current transition period would end on December 31 without a deal.

Post-Brexit trade deal has 'narrow path to agreement'

"I think, regrettably, the chances are more likely that we won't secure an agreement. So at the moment less than 50%," he said.

The new deadline set for the end of the talks is Sunday, with the EU suggesting that it would be unable to pass a deal by New Year's Eve if talks went beyond that date.

Read more: Michel Barnier: 'Good progress' in talks on a post-Brexit trade deal

Read more: Ursula von der Leyen says there is 'path to agreement'

The bloc's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday that there has been "good progress" in talks but the "last stumbling blocks remain."

Mr Barnier briefed European Parliament leaders about the state of the talks, which he said were in the "final stretch".

This is a breaking news story. More to follow...

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