Boris Johnson set for make-or-break decision on Brexit talks

Cornelia Mascio
Ottobre 16, 2020

Lord Frost, Boris Johnson's Europe sherpa, said the United Kingdom was "disappointed" by the outcome of a European Union summit in which the bloc signalled it was willing to continue trade negotiations but called on Britain to make the next move.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who in September had made today a deadline for an agreement to be reached, had indicated he would take stock of the leaders' comments today before deciding whether it is worth continuing with the "future relationship" talks or not.

The leaders agreed that the 27 member states and European Union institutions should "step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes", ahead of the possibility of the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December without a deal on a future relationship.

Another volatile day looks to be on the cards for the Pound as market participants await PM Johnson's response as to whether to continue trade negotiations after failing to make significant headway at the EU Summit.

The leaders made a decision to keep negotiating for a couple of weeks at their summit on Thursday, which was the deadline set by the UK.

"We want to give these discussions every chance of being successful so that we secure an agreement", he said.

That stops short of the intensification of talks that the U.K.is demanding. Britain's junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi said London also could not wait much longer as it needed to tell businesses to prepare if talks fail. He said that Johnson, who has threatened to quit the negotiations at the end of this week if a deal can't be struck, would respond on Friday (Oct 16).

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte echoed the words of his German counterpart, saying that Italy was willing to work to the very last minute to get a trade deal done, but added, "we need a fair deal", and would not finalise an agreement "at any cost".

European officials brushed off Frost's complaints and insisted they won't persuade the bloc to shift its stance, and several voiced irritation, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The summit had been viewed as a key milestone in the process, but it had become clear in recent weeks that an agreement, even on a limited tariff and quota free trade pact, would not be reached until early November.

"We need to lower the landing gear, we're approaching the runway".

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier said "the negotiations aren't over", adding that his team would be London-bound for more talks next week and planned to host negotiations in Brussels the week after that.

Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said that the trade deal had to be "balanced" with no winners or losers in the negotiations.

"Britain has already imposed so many deadlines that came and went", said Rutte, arguing it was time to concentrate on content instead. As such, UK PM Johnson is likely to let the self-imposed deadline pass, highlighting that a there is a deal to be done.

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