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Talks continue

Brexit deadline extended as Boris pulls back from brink

Boris-Johnson-launching-manifesto

Boris Johnson: no deal.. yet

Brexit talks will continue for at least another week after Boris Johnson stepped back from the brink of crashing out of the EU with No Deal.

Following a call between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a joint statement was issued saying that it was “responsible at this point to go the extra mile”.

Mr Johnson had insisted that today was a hard deadline for both sides to either finally on Britain’s departure or there would be no deal. 

But the talks could continue right up to the 31 December deadline, with MPs set to work over Christmas and business leaders more optimistic that a deal was now more possible. 

Should a deal be reached, MPs are confident it can sail through Parliament within 24 hours.

The joint statement said: “We had a useful phone call this morning. We discussed the major unresolved topics.

“Our negotiating teams have been working day and night over recent days.

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“And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.

“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached.”

The statement followed warnings yesterday of freight transport disruption at Britain’s ports and airports and as UK supermarkets were told to start stockpiling supplies of vital foods and other necessities.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said:  “If a few more hours or days makes the difference, keep going – and get an agreement that delivers clarity and certainty to businesses and trade on both sides.

“Businesses will need time and support to adjust in a New Year like no other – whatever the eventual outcome.”

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, said:  “The news that talks will continue gives hope. A deal is both essential and possible. It is the only way to build upon the extensive support for the economy given by all governments during the pandemic. Without it, that progress is undermined.” 

He called three bold steps, starting with more detailed guidance for businesses this week, from IT roll out to border checks. He also called for negotiated grace periods to allow firms to adjust to either Deal or No Deal. “And third, prepare support for firms who will face the greatest challenges in the short run,” he said. 

“Those in sectors and supply chains that are badly hit will face extinction through tariffs, red tape and extra costs. We need to ensure those firms survive to play a role in post Brexit Britain.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Conservatives promised the British people that they had an oven-ready deal and that they would get Brexit done.

“The Government needs to deliver on that promise, get us the deal and allow us to move on as a country.”

The talks remain log-jammed over fisheries arrangements, business subsidy regulations and the overall governance of the deal.

Ministers have drawn up plans for a £10 billion bailout package for sectors of the economy that are set to be badly hit in the worst-case scenario. They include farmers and food producers, chemical suppliers, the car industry and fishing fleets, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Four Royal Navy ships will be on patrol from 1 January to help protect UK fishing waters if, as seems likely, there is no Brexit deal with the EU.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today that France’s fishing boats will have ‘zero access’ to British waters if there is a No Deal Brexit.

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