Boris Johnson will make 'one last throw of dice' in Brexit trade talks

Boris Johnson will make ‘one last throw of the dice’ in Brexit trade talks after hour-long phone call with EU chief failed to resolve ‘significant differences’ – and could address the nation on No Deal if deadlock remains

  • Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen failed to resolve ‘significant differences’ 
  • Talks will resume on Monday in hope that the impasse can be broken by evening
  • If no agreement is made Mr Johnson could make a dramatic address to nation
  • He might be forced to announce that the UK will leave the EU without a deal

Boris Johnson will make ‘one last throw of the dice’ in trade talks with the EU on Monday to avert a No Deal Brexit at the end of the month as negotiations remained deadlocked this weekend.

An hour-long phone call between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen failed to resolve the ‘significant differences’ between London and Brussels over French demands for Britain to remain tied to EU rules. Talks will resume in Brussels on Monday.

If the impasse is not broken by tomorrow evening, when Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen speak again, Mr Johnson could make a dramatic address to the nation announcing that the UK will leave without a deal.

Boris Johnson (pictured during his phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen) will make ‘one last throw of the dice’ in trade talks with the EU on Monday to avert a No Deal Brexit at the end of the month as negotiations remained deadlocked this weekend 

An hour-long phone call between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) failed to resolve the ‘significant differences’ between London and Brussels

Talks cannot continue beyond next week because it would leave insufficient Parliamentary time to pass the deal in to law.

The Government’s scope to make concessions in the talks is limited by pressure from Brexit-supporting Tory backbenchers – some of whom have privately threatened to try to force a leadership contest if the Prime Minister surrenders any of the country’s post-EU freedoms.

After making the call from his Chequers country escape, Mr Johnson released a joint statement with Ms von der Leyen which said that ‘significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries’, adding: ‘Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.’

British negotiators were left stunned by a sudden hardening of the EU position at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured), who said he would veto any deal that threatened French interests

Last night, a source close to the talks said: ‘This is the final throw of the dice. There is a fair deal to be done that works for both sides but this will only happen if the EU is willing to respect fundamental principles of sovereignty and control.’

British negotiators were left stunned by a sudden hardening of the EU position at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he would veto any deal that threatened French interests. 

One source called them ‘unprecedented last-minute demands incompatible with our commitment to becoming a sovereign nation’, adding: ‘There is barely any time left, and this process may not end in agreement.’ 

Peter Bone, one of the ‘Spartans’, a group of Tory MPs named for their hard line on Brexit, said: ‘I would bet my house Boris won’t sell out Britain in any deal he gets.’ Fellow Spartan Marcus Fysh insisted Brussels – not Mr Johnson – would have to compromise.

WHAT IT WILL MEAN FOR YOU IF THEY CAN’T AGREE  

Will my food bill go up?

Britain imports a quarter of its food from Europe, so red tape and delays at ports could disrupt supplies of produce such as mushrooms and salad. But major shortages are unlikely as authorities have already delayed requirements for new food delivery paperwork until July.

From then, the UK will need to be told of animal-based food imports, including meat, milk and eggs.

Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, the UK can impose tariffs on food from the EU, which could raise prices for Britons. Imported cheddar, for example, could face a 57 per cent duty. Food and drink face an average tariff of 18 per cent – equal to £2 a head on a typical £45 shopping basket if the cost is passed to customers.

Will I still be able to find my favourite foods?

Some products that came from the EU might become harder to find if hauliers redirect their routes.

If red tape causes big lorry queues at the border, some perishable foods might struggle to make it to supermarket shelves in time – particularly as supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables have already been disrupted as a result of Covid.

What about travel plans?

Holidaymakers travelling to the EU will need to make sure their passport is valid. Schengen Area countries require that passports for visitors from non-EU countries must be valid for at least six months.

They also require passports to have been issued within ten years, so Britons whose passports have extra months added from previous ones could be affected. The Government has already advised anyone wishing to travel to EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland from January to check their passports comply with these rules, regardless of whether a trade deal is agreed. If they have followed this advice, their plans should not be disrupted in a No Deal scenario.

Travellers might need additional paperwork when driving in Europe, and you will need to check with your mobile phone operator whether roaming fees will apply.

Will I need health insurance when travelling to Europe?

Yes. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid, so holidaymakers going to EU counties will need to take out their own health cover. The Government says this will be the case with or without a deal. The EHIC covered pre-existing conditions, but many insurance policies don’t.

Do I need to worry about my bank account or credit card?

Not if you live in Britain and hold a UK bank account. However, thousands of expats in EU countries have been told their UK current accounts and credit cards will be shut down at the end of the year because British banks face complex red tape on accounts to customers in the EU when current regulations end in January.

Will I still be able to get my prescription drugs?

There is good news here. Medicines have been designated as extremely important ‘category 1 goods’. That means extra preparations are in place to ensure no disruption to supplies. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has ruled out border delays for any Covid vaccine. Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, told The Mail on Sunday last night that drug firms had stockpiled up to three months of supplies to prevent shortages. Imports of medicines will not face tariffs – even if there’s no deal.

How will it affect British firms selling products to EU?

The UK would trade with the EU on WTO rules – at least until a host of smaller deals can be done.

Currently, British companies can sell goods and services into EU markets tariff-free, with minimal border checks. The same goes for EU companies selling here.

Under WTO terms, the UK could impose quotas and tariffs on goods being imported from the EU. It could do this to protect key UK markets, making imported goods more expensive to buy here. The EU could do the same for our exports, hurting UK businesses that try to sell on the Continent.

Are British jobs at risk?

There have been warnings about hundreds of thousands of job losses, but much will depend on how individual companies respond.

Some sectors will fare worse than others – but small firms that focus solely on the UK market may even see a boost. Car manufacturers in particular have warned that No Deal would cost them £100 billion over five years, leading to redundancies. Under WTO rules, tariffs could add £2,700 to a British-made car sold in the EU. Tariffs on vans and trucks could add 22 per cent to prices, making it harder to compete. Car makers also fear disruption to supply chains for parts and have been stockpiling and booking space on planes in case ports become jammed.

What does it mean for our manufacturers?

The EU is the largest export market for Britain’s manufacturers – from firms producing chemicals to electronics and vehicles. The biggest consequence of WTO terms would be moving from a zero rate to higher tariffs.

Another concern is the impact on ‘just-in-time’ supply chains, which move materials into the country just before they are needed, reducing the need to store stock and cutting warehouse costs. Longer customs checks may disrupt this.

British firms may also have to prove most parts in their products originated in the UK – not easy for those with global supply chains.

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