Brexit: UK-EU trade talks to resume in Brussels

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent David Wood

The UK and the EU will resume post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels on Sunday, after Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Layen agreed to continue negotiations in the hope of reaching a deal.

Following a telephone call which lasted more than an hour, the prime minister and Ms von der Leyen said progress had been achieved in "many areas" but the possibility of no deal was still "feasible".

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost will meet in the Belgian capital tomorrow, while Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen will speak again on Monday to assess the negotiations.

In a joint statement, they said: "In a phone call today on the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom we welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas.

"Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.

"Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.

"We are therefore instructing our chief negotiators to reconvene tomorrow in Brussels.

"We will speak again on Monday."

Following Saturday evening's announcement that talks would resume, the Mr Barnier tweeted: "We will see if there is a way forward. Work continues tomorrow."

  • ITV News Correspondent David Wood explains the latest from Brexit negotiations

ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand said Monday's conversation between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen could prove pivotal in whether a deal is reached.

He tweeted: "The fact that PM and Von der Leyen will speak on Monday evening feels like the next big crunch moment to me. Never underestimate the ability of both sides to extend talks, but by Monday time really is running out and it’ll be approaching a fundamental question of deal or no deal."

The outstanding issues - fisheries, the so-called "level-playing field" rules on fair competition, and the governance arrangements for any deal - have been known for months.

What is unclear from the statement is whether either - or both - of the two leaders was prepared to shift ground during the call in a way that would enable their negotiators to bridge the gaps.

In the run up to the call, the UK accused the EU side of seeking to introduce "new elements" into the negotiations at the 11th hour.

The British side was angered by reported demands by Brussels that EU fishermen should continue to enjoy the same access to UK waters for another 10 years.

ITV News exclusively revealed on Friday that France was demanding assess to fish in waters between six and 12 miles of the mainland UK.

There was concern that Mr Barnier was coming under pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron at the head of a group of countries which feared he was giving too much ground to the UK.

Irish premier Micheal Martin, whose country is among those most anxious to get an agreement, welcomed the announcement that the talks would continue.

"An agreement is in everyone's best interests. Every effort should be made to reach a deal," he tweeted.