A desperate "last dice roll" to strike a Brexit deal is underway today as ministers warned Boris Johnson not to bluff without a deal.
Michel Barnier and Britain's David Frost resume negotiations in Brussels after a call between Prime Minister and EU leader Ursula von der Leyen failed to achieve a breakthrough. Lord Frost said on arrival: "We are working very hard to get a deal."
As the pressure builds as the clock wanes, Mr Johnson prepares to deliver a dramatic address to the nation explaining his decision to pull the plug, with the odds now at 50:50.
The cabinet has also announced that it will support the prime minister if he decides that there is no point in continuing efforts to settle new trade terms before the transition period ends on January 1.
In interviews this morning, Environment Minister George Eustice said the "next few days" would show if the EU was bluffing to "get a few things off the line".
"We will continue to work on these negotiations until it makes no sense to continue doing this," he told Sky News & # 39; Ridge on Sunday.
"We have always been clear that if we cannot reach an agreement, as the Prime Minister says on Australian terms, we will leave."
Former Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown, however, strongly warned that the breakdown of negotiations would spell “economic war” with both the EU and the US, with problems bringing food and drugs into Britain.
“If there isn't a deal now, I see a huge international impact from what it doesn't deliver. We would be in an economic war with Europe that would cost us a lot, ”Brown said.
& # 39; But we would also be in an economic war with America. There would be no chance of a trade deal with America.
"Boris Johnson will be the most isolated prime minister in history."
Seasoned observers believe that the chance of a last-minute agreement has stalled, with speculation that both sides will line up and try to obtain maximum concessions.
Mr Johnson and Commission President Mrs von der Leyen had an hour-long call last night to take stock of progress after months of intense discussions led by Lord Frost and Mr Barnier.
In a joint statement, however, they admitted that there are still “significant differences” between London and Brussels.
The French demands that the UK remain bound by EU rules were highlighted as the main remaining obstacle.
If the impasse is not overcome by tomorrow evening and Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen speak again, Mr Johnson could go on the air to inform the British that Britain is leaving without a trade deal.
Boris Johnson (pictured during his telephone conversation with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen) will do one last roll of the dice in trade talks with the EU on Monday to prevent a no-deal Brexit at the end of the month, as negotiations are still ongoing Stuck weekend
Lord Frost (pictured on the left today) and Michel Barnier (right) resume talks in Brussels
A one-hour phone call between the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (picture), could not resolve the "significant differences" between London and Brussels
In interviews this morning, Environment Secretary George Eustice (left) said the "next few days" will tell if the EU is bluffing to "get a few things off the line". Former Labor Secretary Gordon Brown (right) strongly warned that the breakdown in negotiations would spell “economic war” with both the EU and the US, with problems with the UK's import of food and drugs
The middle of this week is seen as the very last deadline, as Parliament and the EU countries have to approve the deal. A summit will take place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
The government's leeway to make concessions in the talks is limited by pressure from Brexit-backing Tory backers – with threats to force a leadership competition if the prime minister gives up one of the country's freedoms after the EU.
Sir Keir Starmer had to isolate again
Sir Keir Starmer has to self-isolate for the second time in four months after an employee tests positive for coronavirus.
He is expected to remain in isolation until December 16, after interacting with the agent last Tuesday.
He was forced to isolate in September after one of his children showed "possible symptoms" of the virus. He stayed home until the child's coronavirus test came back negative two days later.
The 58-year-old Labor leader will now be absent from Parliament at a critical time as the Brexit talks reach a climax.
However, Commons sources said he would be offered the same remote video link facilities last night as Boris Johnson, who recently answered the Prime Minister's questions from No. 10 when he had to self-isolate.
A Labor leader spokesman said: "Keir is fine and showing no symptoms. He'll be working from home now. & # 39;
Mr Eustice said the negotiations were in a "very difficult position – there is no point in denying it".
"Early last week there was some hope, there was some progress and at some point there seemed to be a breakthrough, but then the European Union added a whole bunch of additional requests that created some problems," he said.
"We'll keep working on these negotiations until there's no point in doing this, but there's no point in denying that what happened late last week was a setback."
After making the call from his Checkers rural exodus, Mr Johnson released a joint statement with Ms von der Leyen saying that "there are significant differences on three critical issues: a level playing field, governance and fisheries".
It said: “Both sides underlined that no agreement can be reached if these issues are not resolved.
'While we recognized the severity of these differences, we agreed that our negotiating teams should make further efforts to assess whether they can be resolved.
“We are therefore instructing our negotiators to meet in Brussels tomorrow. We will speak again on Monday evening. & # 39;
The call came after Mr Barnier and Mr Frost announced on Friday that they would pause talks after the last round of negotiations failed to achieve a breakthrough.
Lord Frost will return to Brussels with a small team of negotiators to try to resolve the remaining problems.
While in the past much of the focus has been on differences in terms of fisheries, UK sources said they were particularly concerned with the so-called level playing field rules on issues such as state aid to businesses.
A source close to the conversation said, “This is the final roll of the dice.
"A fair deal must be found that works for both sides, but this will only happen if the EU is willing to respect the basic principles of sovereignty and control."
British negotiators were stunned by a sudden tightening of the EU position at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he would veto any deal that threatened French interests.
Calling them "unprecedented last-minute demands that are incompatible with our commitment to become a sovereign nation," a source added, "There is little time and this process may not end in accordance."
On another aggravating factor, the UK government is bringing back Commons legislation which allows it to override elements of Mr Johnson's divorce settlement with Brussels in violation of international law.
MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to repeal amendments by the House of Lords that remove the provisions of the UK's Internal Market Act across the Irish border.
British negotiators were stunned by a sudden tightening of the EU's position at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured), who said he would veto any deal that threatened French interests
MPs will then consider the post-transition tax bill later in the week, which contains other similar provisions.
The legislation has enraged the EU and, if passed, could further worsen the mood in the negotiations, making it more difficult to reach an agreement.
Peter Bone, one of the 'Spartans', a group of Tory MPs named for their tough line on Brexit, said, 'I would bet my house won't sell Boris Britain in any deal he gets.'
Spartan colleague Marcus Fysh insisted that Brussels – not Mr Johnson – had to compromise.
The Minister of the Sadov Cabinet, Rachel Reeves, urged both sides to resolve their differences as soon as possible.
"The British people have been promised a deal and in time we will ask both sides to come to an agreement," she said.
However, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage expressed concern that they are looking to further extend the UK term in accordance with EU rules.
"I hope this lack of agreement doesn't mean we're headed for an extension," he tweeted.
"After four and a half years, the Brexit voters will not tolerate that."
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