Brexit news live: Latest news as Boris Johnson says negotiations remain ‘difficult’

While the EU has signalled that tentative “movement” was being made in post-Brexit trade talks, the UK suggested negotiations remained “difficult” and that the teams had not made “significant progress”.

Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission president, said on Monday that Britain and the EU now had the “architecture” in place for a deal on the so-called level playing field, after Brussels reportedly dropped a demand for unilateral tariffs to be imposed on the UK should it fail to keep up with new EU rules. 

However, Downing Street did not share the same optimism, according to the BBC, saying it was “simply not true” that the government had “backtracked” on fishing demands. It comes after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, reportedly signalled to EU ambassadors yesterday that the UK was now willing to make fresh concessions on the “fisheries” issue. 

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‘If we cut out blustering, we can get a trade deal,’ senior Tory MP says

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale appeared on Sky News this morning to clarify what he meant in his tweet yesterday, when it appeared the senior figure was calling for Boris Johnson’s reignations hould the PM fail to get rhrough a trade deal.

“What I actually said, and what I mean, is that if the prime minister doesn’t secure an acceptable deal – then he will have failed the British people and then his position is in question,” Sir Roger told the broadcaster.

“If we cut out the blustering … then it is perfectly reasonable to get a trade deal,” he added. 

The Tory MP caused controversy yesterday when he appeared to suggest that Mr Johnson should step aside if he is unsuccessful at securing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU. 

He tweeted that should Mr Johnson fail to secure a deal, “he would have to make way for somebody more able to pick up the pieces, to re-unite the whole Country and to show the leadership that Great Britain and Northern Ireland deserves”.

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 09:48

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PM visiting India in January to promote ‘Global Britain’ post-Brexit

Boris Johnson will visit India in January in an effort to boost trade and promote his “Global Britain” agenda, with the trip scheduled to take place shortly after the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union. 

Many recognise the move as a signal by Mr Johnson that he intends to focus on building links in the Indo-Pacific region. The PM will also invite India to attend the G7 summit hosted by the UK in 2021 as a guest nation, along with South Korea and Australia.

During the visit to India, Mr Johnson will be only the second British leader since Indian independence to attend the country’s annual Republic Day parade in New Delhi as guest of honour, after Sir John Major in 1993.

The PM’s counterpart, Narendra Modi, invited him on the trip.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said he was “absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year” at the beginning of what he called “an exciting year for Global Britain”.

“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet,” he said.

It will be the first major bilateral visit of the Johnson premiership, due to the coronavirus crisis putting a ban on the large majority of travel arrangements. 

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 09:00

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Deal depends on EU ‘moving’, Stephen Barclay says

The EU must “move” in trade negotiations, chief secretary to the treasury Stephen Barclay has said.

Mr Barclay told Sky News on Tuesday: “The discussions are ongoing. The fundamentals remain the same. It is in both sides’ interest to have a deal. That is what the prime minister has committed to.

“The PM is battling for Britain. And whether there is a deal is not simply down to the actions of the PM, it needs the EU to move to respond to the precedent that they have given other countries.”

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 08:45

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BBC: ‘UK doesn’t want to add to expectations deal might emerge’

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 08:39

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UK and EU disagree on progress of trade talks

Britain and the EU are thought to have the “architecture” in place for a deal on one of the stickiest points of the Brexit negotiations, according to Ursula von der Leyen. The EU Commission president suggested that there had been “movement” on the level playing field and negotiators were now working on the “details”.

It comes after Brussels reportedly dropped the so-called ratchet clause from negotiations. The EU had wanted the right to impose unilateral tariffs on Britain if it failed to keep up with new EU rules that could distort trade between the two sides. But multiple newspapers and agencies now suggest this demand has been dropped, and instead talks are focusing on the process by which tariffs could be applied.

Downing Street did not appear to share the same optimism, though, saying negotiations remained “difficult” and that the teams had not made “significant progress”. No 10 also said it was “simply not true” that the government had “backtracked” on fishing demands. 

It is believed that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, signalled to EU ambassadors yesterday that the UK was now willing to make fresh concessions on the “fisheries” issue. 

“There is simply no truth in the idea that we have backtracked,” The Times reported a Downing Street source as having said. “The inaccurate briefings from the EU side in recent days have made a difficult discussion even more challenging in the short period of time we have left.”

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 08:24

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Hello, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Brexit negotiations. 

Sam Hancock15 December 2020 08:11

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