Brexit talks reaching climax

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Prime minister Boris Johnson meets with Ursula von Der Leyen at the European Commission in Brussels to continue with Brexit talks. Picture by Andrew Parsons No 10 Downing Street

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK and the European Union (EU) will continue the post-Brexit trade talks, but there remains “a gap that needs to be bridged”.

“Obviously, the UK’s position is always that we want to keep talking if there’s any chance of a deal,” Xinhua news agency quoted Johnson as saying on Sky News on Friday.

“But we’ve also got to recognize that the UK’s got to be able to control its own laws. It’s what people voted for, and we’ve also got to be able to control our waters and fishing rights,” he said.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that “things are looking difficult” and a no-deal Brexit “may be difficult at first”.

But he reiterated that Britain would “prosper mightily” even under such a scenario.

“I think we’ve just got to get through this period and look to all the opportunities that will open up to this country in 2021,” he said.

On Thursday, Johnson underlined the ongoing post-Brexit trade negotiations were now “in a serious situation”, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his UK’s chief negotiator David Frost with Ursula von Der Leyen and Michel Barnier after their dinner at the European Commission in Brussels to continue with Brexit talks. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

“Time was very short and it now looked very likely that agreement would not be reached unless the EU position changed substantially,” said the spokesperson in a statement issued after a phone call between Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday evening.

The British and EU leaders have previously said significant differences still remain between the two sides on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries.

Latest reports suggested that fishing rights remains the last major sticking point between the two sides.

The trade negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires on December 31.

Failure to reach a free trade agreement means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization rules in 2021.