James Forsyth

Talks resume in a final bid for a Brexit deal

Talks resume in a final bid for a Brexit deal
(Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Brexit negotiations are continuing in Brussels this morning. But Michel Barnier’s briefing to EU member states suggests that little progress was made yesterday.

Boris Johnson and the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak this evening. It seems highly unlikely that there’ll be a deal for them to bless in that call. Rather, it will again come down to whether their conversation can lead to a breakthrough in the negotiations, which is surely going to have to come from some creativity rather than just the two sides going over the same well-trodden ground again.

I had thought that today really was the deadline on Brexit because of the return of the Internal Market Bill to the Commons. The Bill has caused much upset on the EU side thanks to clauses that would allow the UK to breach elements of the Withdrawal Agreement. 

But it seems that the EU has decided not to end the talks over this point. Note Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney giving the negotiations more time by emphasising that the Internal Market Bill won’t be law yet, even if the Commons votes the offending clauses back in. 

But the final EU Council Meeting of the year is on Thursday and if there isn’t a deal by then, a slew of member states will demand that the focus shifts to no-deal planning.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is political editor of The Spectator.

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