Brexit: Boris Johnson 'disappointed' at slow progress of talks with EU

14 October 2020, 23:00 | Updated: 14 October 2020, 23:23

Boris Johnson has expressed disappointment over the progress of talks with the EU
Boris Johnson has expressed disappointment over the progress of talks with the EU. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson has expressed "disappointment" over the lack of progress in talks with the European Union on a post-Brexit trade deal.

The prime minister said he would "reflect" on the outcome of a two-day EU summit in Brussels - due to take place on Thursday - before deciding the UK's next move in negotiations.

Mr Johnson has previously stated he would be willing to walk away from discussions with the bloc if no agreement had been reached by the time the summit took place.

He discussed the "latest state of play" in a call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel, ahead of the gathering in the Belgian capital.

A No 10 spokesman said: "The prime minister noted the desirability of a deal, but expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks.

"The prime minister said that he looked forward to hearing the outcome of the European Council and would reflect before setting out the UK's next steps in the light of his statement of 7 September."

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Ms von der Leyen said the EU was still working on a deal, but added that the "conditions must be right" if an agreement was to be struck.

"The EU is working on a deal, but not at any price. Still a lot of work ahead of us," she tweeted.

Earlier this month, Mr Johnson and the EU chief agreed to "intensify" negotiations as part of a final push for a wide-ranging agreement covering Britain's relationship with the bloc when the transition period concludes at the end of the year.

However, the EU side has been resisting the UK's efforts to impose a tight deadline in a bid to force through a deal.

Britain's chief negotiator Lord Frost is set to brief Mr Johnson on the negotiations with his European counterpart Michel Barnier - which have been continuing this week - before a final decision on whether they are worth continuing.

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Earlier, No 10 said progress had been made over the last few days - primarily in technical areas - but that differences still remain, in particular over fishing rights.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "Some progress has been made this week, primarily in technical areas of the negotiations, but there are still differences, with fisheries being the starkest.

"We need to get the substance settled and not having a common text to work from has made progress doubly difficult.

"The prime minister's 7 September statement was very clear about the significance of 15 October.

"He will need to take a decision on next steps following the European Council in the light of his conversation with President von der Leyen, and on advice from his negotiating team.

"I cannot pre-judge what that decision will be."