The EU today trolled Boris Johnson that it is ready to negotiate again next year if he walks away after a crunch meeting with Ursula von Der Leyen this week.
The Prime Minister urgently warns that he is approaching the “limits” of Brexit and that he could “pull stumps” if no progress is made in the talks with the EU Commission head.
Mr Johnson insisted that he would "do my best" to solve the impasse, but stressed that Britain had "great opportunities" even if there was no trade deal with Brussels.
"Our friends just understood that Britain has left the EU in order to have democratic control over the way we work," Johnson told reporters during a hospital visit.
“There is also the issue of fishing, where we are still a long way apart. But hope is eternal, I'll do my best to sort this out if we can. & # 39;
However, the Commission has hyped the prospect of UK crawling back to the table within months if there is no agreement – something French have claimed will happen because the damage will be so dire.
Downing Street responded by completely ruling out trade talks with the bloc again in 2021.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is facing increasing pressure from both wings of the Conservative Party. The Eurosceptics warn against making further concessions – but the moderates say he will face a greater threat to his leadership if he doesn't do a deal.
Any package agreed with the EU would have to be incorporated into legislation and approved by parliament. In contrast, at the end of the transition period, no deal is the default option, and any vote on the issue in the House of Commons would almost certainly be symbolic.
The Prime Minister said he would "do my best" to solve the impasse when he meets the President of the European Commission in person in the coming days
On Thursday afternoon, Michel Barnier again tabled old demands that the UK not only respect existing EU laws, but any laws the bloc might pass in the future. He was reportedly angry that his boss Ursula von der Leyen treated the UK gently while isolating himself
According to Downing Street, the prime minister told cabinet this morning that "any deal must respect our core principles". A spokesman said: "He stressed that the UK would thrive with or without a free trade agreement with the EU."
The ministers spoke at the cabinet meeting this morning about the ongoing dispute over Brexit
What are the sticking points in the Brexit talks?
The UK has insisted that it regain control of its coastal waters from the end of the transition period.
However, the EU called for its fleets to maintain their previous access levels – with Emmanuel Macron under particular pressure from the French fishing industry.
First, the UK said it would reclaim 80 percent of EU quotas from January 1.
However, Brussels suggested restoring just 18 percent.
The two sides are believed to be near a "landing zone" that has a transition period of perhaps five or seven years. However, the UK denies there is still an agreement.
LEVEL PLAY FIELD
The EU has insisted that the UK commit to a level playing field to ensure companies on the continent with lower environmental standards and regulations are not undercut.
State aid has emerged as a particular problem, especially as the coronavirus is making parts of the economy unprofitable.
However, the UK says it needs to regain sovereign powers to make rules, even though it has no plans to lower standards or distort competition by subsidizing the private sector.
It appeared that this area had been resolved in principle last week before France reportedly put a number of additional conditions in place, including huge penalties for breaking the rules.
Getting a deal done and who decides whether to break rules has been a focus from the start.
The exemption from the European Court of Justice was one of the Brexiter's greatest demands from the referendum.
However, the EU has tried to maintain control of governance and insist on harsh fines and punitive tariffs for violations.
The situation was inflamed by the dispute over the UK's Single Market Act, which gives ministers the power to override the previous Brexit divorce terms to prevent deadlocks between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Critics say this shows why enforcement mechanisms need to be effective.
The maneuver took place after a 40-minute phone call with Ms. von der Leyen, during which it was not possible to overcome the impasse with regard to fishing rights, equal competition rules and governance.
Lord Frost and EU President Michel Barnier have argued intensely for months, but have not been able to solve the last three problems.
There have been extraordinary claims today that Mr Barnier subtly sabotaged a package that appeared to emerge last week.
The former French minister was apparently dissatisfied with elements drawn in by Frau von der Leyen's team while isolating himself and struggling with technology.
As a result, on Thursday afternoon, Michel Barnier again made old demands on the UK to respect not only existing EU laws but any laws the bloc might pass in the future.
The "repackaged" plan would "permanently" bind Britain to EU rules, under pressure from "lightning" tariffs that Brussels could unilaterally impose on British exports if they comply with EU labor and environmental standards would differ.
The move promoted by French President Emmanuel Macron was flatly rejected by Mr Johnson, warning that the EU had "miscalculated" itself by assuming that Britain would resign.
Mr Barnier and Mr Frost met again today in Brussels to have a joint overview of the remaining disputes that stand before Heads of State or Government.
The EU negotiator said enigmatically to reporters: "Brexit is more than ever a school of patience – even a university of patience."
In a high-stakes game last night, the Prime Minister announced that he would personally take over the trade negotiations.
Mr Johnson's decision to travel to Brussels – probably tomorrow – came after a second long phone call with Ms. von der Leyen in 48 hours.
In a joint statement, the two heads of state and government said the negotiating teams would be asked to provide an overview of the "remaining differences" before the crunch meeting.
They added: “We agreed that the conditions for the conclusion of an agreement were not met due to the remaining significant differences on three critical issues: a level playing field, governance and fisheries.
"We asked our negotiators and their teams to draw up an outline of the remaining differences to be discussed at a physical meeting in Brussels."
Tory Eurosceptics continued to urge Mr Johnson not to give in to demands from Brussels.
Former Minister David Jones said: “The EU needs to understand that while we commit to good relations with our neighbors, we will never again allow our trade and regulation policies to be dictated by other countries. A free trade agreement is one thing; Submission is another. & # 39;
However, a senior Tory MP told MailOnline that if he fails to reach an agreement with the EU, Mr Johnson is in danger of being ousted rather than compromising.
They insisted that the One Nation group on the Conservative benches – who met last night to discuss their position – make up two-thirds of the party.
These MPs, however, prefer to work behind the scenes rather than touring the radio studios like hardline Brexiteers.
"The problem the Prime Minister has is that Brexiters are very good at saying, 'If the ERG is not happy, he's done," said the Senior Tory.
& # 39; That's Bull **** because they don't have the numbers. If he doesn't get a deal, he might be done.
“There is enough majority in the party to believe him when he said he would get a deal.
“The letters could come in if he doesn't get a deal. Here lies his greater threat, and I think he knows that. & # 39;
Under Tory Rules, a vote of confidence is triggered when 10 percent of MPs send letters to the 1922 chairman, Sir Graham Brady, requesting one.
According to Downing Street, it remains to be decided when Mr Johnson will travel to Brussels.
However, sources insisted the prime minister would not crash a summit of EU leaders due in Brussels on Thursday and Friday – tomorrow as the most likely option.
Mr Barnier told MEPs yesterday that tomorrow was the final deadline for a deal.
Mr Johnson said he was willing to keep looking for a deal until the deal ends.
"We're always hopeful, but there may come a moment when we need to acknowledge that it's time to draw stumps, and it is," he said.
"We will, as I've always said, thrive under any version, and if we have to go with an Australian solution, that's fine too."
He added, "There are only limits that no sensible, independent government or country can go beyond, and people need to understand that."
The EU went on today to say that Mr Johnson is ready to negotiate again next year if there is no agreement.
French diplomats have claimed that if no agreement is reached, Britain will crawl back to the table within months as the damage will be so dire.
However, Downing Street has completely ruled out debating in 2021.
Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie said the mandate from the 27 member states and the European Parliament to officials would allow further discussions.
"If that deal doesn't go through on January 1st, we'll be in a no-deal situation," said Ferrie.
"That does not preclude that the negotiations can continue – on our part – and it does not preclude that we can proceed on the basis of the mandate given to us."
Before calling Ms. von der Leven, Mr Johnson offered the EU an olive branch by saying he would drop controversial measures in the Single Market Act that break last year's Brexit deal on issues related to Northern Ireland.
With time running out before the end of the Brexit transition this month, ministers remained optimistic about the prospect of a deal.
Mr Barnier raised hopes of a deal as he re-entered the political arena after being forced to resign after one of his aides tested positive for coronavirus.
While he was self-isolating, his boss, Ms. von der Leyen, took over the talks and went into Britain, making concessions on fishing and "a level playing field".
British sources told the Times that Mr Barnier was angry that the EU would try "at all costs" to reach an agreement with Britain. This was the site of a showdown between France and Germany on how much Britain had to be conceded to threaten the bloc's united front against London.
Unaware of the tactics used to humiliate Theresa May, Boris Johnson was reluctant to travel to Brussels. But after his negotiator warned the talks were about to collapse – and two long phone calls to the President of the European Commission failed to break the deadlock – Mr Johnson accepted that the benefits of going to Brussels now outweighed the risks
France started the war of words with its permanent representative in Brussels, Philippe Léglise-Costa, accusing Germany of allowing Frau von der Leyen to give too much away during the negotiations.
He reportedly told other "dovish" member states, including Sweden, that France would veto an agreement with the UK, provided London did not make concessions and Mr Barnier was allowed to tighten the EU's position.
Germany hit back the French, the Dutch and others because they were "nervous".
A French-led alliance of nations that included Spain, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands put pressure on Germany, Austria and Sweden, eventually forcing the commission to suddenly tighten its stance on Britain on Thursday.
A UK source told the newspaper: "We went from a position on Thursday morning where we thought we could get through to a deal by the weekend to a position where it seemed almost impossible to see how we would ever get a deal would. "
Mr Johnson had prepared to agree a non-regression clause under which the UK would maintain existing standards on issues such as state aid, workers rights and the environment.
After Michael Gove traveled to Brussels yesterday, rumors of possible compromises continued to swirl
However, according to sources, the UK's request to adapt to future EU rules was "a total no-starter".
Lord Frost was so alarmed that he broke off the talks in a dingy conference room in the business department – called "the cave" – to inform the Prime Minister personally.
Mr. Johnson was later heard singing Waltzing Matilda in his office, in an obvious reference to trading with the EU on Australian terms – Code No. 10 for No Deal.
Over the weekend, Chief Whip bombarded Mark Spencer with messages from Tories urging Mr. Johnson not to resign.
Eurosceptic MP Andrew Bridgen publicly warned that the Prime Minister would be "done" if he did not protect British sovereignty.
British officials quickly pointed a finger at Mr Macron to torpedo talks that had been destined to succeed a few days earlier.
Environment Secretary George Eustice admitted, "There's no denying that the end of last week was quite a setback."
A source said: “Earlier this week we saw Macron agitating with other EU capitals that were giving too much away.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister phoned Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, for an hour
Then you see Barnier bring that (clause) back and the whole process goes backwards. I think everyone can join the points.
“We want a deal, but it has to be based on the fact that we are a sovereign country again. Some people still seem to struggle with the concept that we will be an independent country making our own rules. If it stays that way, there will be no deal. & # 39;
On Saturday, the Prime Minister phoned Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, for an hour.
The call was cordial in every way, but unproductive.
Lord Frost and his team were soon back at St. Pancras Station in London, boarding the Eurostar for another round of face-to-face meetings.
Amid growing signs of tension on the EU side, Dutch sources informed the media that the bloc was preparing to drop France's stringent fishing requirements – only to have the claim rejected by both sides.
After Michael Gove traveled to Brussels yesterday, rumors of possible compromises continued to swirl.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson and London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey got a grip on a crab on a tour of his constituency.
Later he phoned Ms. von der Leyen for another 40 minutes – but this call did not produce any significant results either.
Mr Johnson had tried to pave the way to an agreement by offering to drop controversial measures related to Northern Ireland that ministers admit would violate international law by breaching parts of last year's readmission agreement. The move didn't seem to have any effect.
"There has been no progress since Friday," said a source close to the negotiations.
“It is clear that the current process has reached the end of the road – there are only so many cases where negotiators can handle the same issues without new political input.
"We still believe we can get a deal, but there is a very real chance we won't get there."
"We haven't made any tangible progress," # 10 said last night. "It is clear that this must now be continued politically."
Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels THIS WEEK to save Brexit by taking control of the trade negotiations himself
By Jason Groves in London and James Franey in Brussels for The Daily Mail
Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels this week to save the Brexit talks.
In a high-stakes game of chance, the Prime Minister will personally lead the trade negotiations, which are apparently no longer on the right track, and hold talks with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (pictured), in order to overcome the impasse
A senior government source said there was "every chance" for no deal, adding: "Talks are now in the same position as they were on Friday.
& # 39; We haven't made any concrete progress. It is clear that this must now be continued politically. While we do not consider this process complete, things look very difficult and there is every chance we will not get there. & # 39;
Another source flatly denied proposals that Mr Johnson was traveling to sign a contract that is already everything – but there, adding, "Anyone who thinks this is some kind of winning lap has no idea what's going on."
The prospect of Mr Johnson trying to get a deal on Brexit should alarm some Tory Eurosceptics.
A MP warned Mr Johnson not to capitulate to EU demands that the UK should remain bound by Brussels rules forever, adding: "If the Prime Minister goes to the EU summit on this note, he will be replaced as Neville Chamberlain return from Winston Churchill. "
Mr Johnson's decision to travel to Brussels – probably tomorrow – came after a second long phone call with Ms. von der Leyen (picture) within 48 hours and did not bring about a breakthrough
Progress towards a deal was torpedoed last week after French President Emmanuel Macron pressured Mr Barnier to tighten his stance.
Mr Barnier called for EU trawlers to accept only modest cuts in their quotas in UK waters and for these to be phased in over a decade – a demand that Environment Secretary George Eustice considered "ridiculous".
On the so-called "level playing field", Mr Johnson has signaled that he is ready to ensure that existing EU standards on subsidies for state aid, workers' rights and the environment are not curtailed after Brexit.
But last week Mr Barnier increased the EU's demands to oblige the UK to also comply with the rules that Brussels will adopt in the future – a demand that No. 10 classifies as "completely unacceptable".
The EU also insists on the right to impose "lightning tariffs" on the UK if it believes the UK has deviated too far from Brussels rules.
Mr Macron has warned that he is ready to veto any deal he deems unacceptable. However, Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it clear that she wants an agreement.
In a joint statement after the 40-minute phone call last night, the two heads of state and government said that EU negotiator Michel Barnier (left) and Briton David Frost (right) would be asked to review the crunch before the crunch meeting To create “remaining differences”
Both heads of state and government have been in close contact with Miss von der Leyen over tactics for the past few days, but sources said neither are currently ready to discuss the deal directly with Mr Johnson.
Both sides recognized yesterday that the talks were in crisis. Cabinet Minister Penny Mordaunt told MPs that the talks were at a "critical moment" with a level playing field being the "most difficult" issue.
Mr Barnier told MEPs that the two sides were facing "big problems" and added: "When it comes to timing we are in the final. Either way, there will be a decision by Thursday. So let's say us on Wednesday can't go beyond that. Be it negative or positive. & # 39;
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: “After hearing from Michel Barnier this morning, the news is really sad. I would say it is very dark. & # 39;
No deal would mean tariffs on goods traded between the UK and the EU. Ministers are also concerned about the prospect of serious disruption to the canal crossings.
A cabinet source said: "The possibility of chaos at the canal crossing has been underestimated."
The pound fell sharply on the grim signals coming from both camps before regaining most of its value following the announcement of the meeting between Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen.
In the Commons, Senior Tories urged the Prime Minister not to give up his negotiating position.
Former Cabinet Secretary Liam Fox said: "We all want a deal, but the difficulties are not really about trade … but about EU politics.
"The point is to make sure that no country follows the UK in exercising its legal powers to leave the European Union and that some in the EU have a desire to limit the UK's post-Brexit competitive potential."
Tory Philip Davies urged the Prime Minister "to stand firm in these negotiations and achieve the Brexit that so many people voted for".
Labor vice-leader Angela Rayner said: "A year after telling the British people that his business was 'oven ready', the fact that he is making one final trip to Brussels shows the extent of his failure."
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