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Thursday, August 5, 2021
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UK, EU leaders to meet as trade deal nears deadline

Boris Johnson

Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism to allow the EU to retaliate swiftly if the UK business regulations change

Boris Johnson will fly to Brussels for talks on a post-Brexit deal with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Time is running out to reach a deal before 31 December, when the UK stops following EU trading rules.

Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism to allow the EU to retaliate swiftly if the UK business regulations change in ways that put European firms at a disadvantage.

If Britain leaves the EU single market in three weeks without a follow-on trade deal the delays that travellers and freight will face at its borders with the European Union will be compounded by import tariffs that will drive up prices.

Johnson and von der Leyen will hold talks over dinner, after negotiations between officials ended in deadlock.

Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition rules and how a deal will be policed.

At the dinner, Prime Minister Johnson will work through a list of the major sticking points with Mrs von der Leyen, who is representing the leaders of the 27 EU nations.

Mr Johnson will take part in Prime Minister’s Questions before travelling to the Belgian capital. EU leaders are due to meet for a summit of their own on Thursday.

A UK government source said progress at a political level may allow the negotiations – between the UK’s Lord Frost and EU’s Michel Barnier – to resume over the coming days.

But the source added that it was important to be “realistic” that an agreement might not be possible.

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