In Brief

UK chief negotiator tells Boris Johnson to expect Brexit deal ‘early next week’

David Frost predicts agreement may be just around the corner despite prime minister’s red lines

The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has told Boris Johnson that talks to secure a future trade deal with the EU may finally have reached “a possible landing zone”.

David Frost is predicting that the negotiations may conclude “as soon as Tuesday”, The Sun political editor’s Harry Cole reports. But the bid to secure a deal could still be scuppered by disputes over fishing and red tape, with both sides urging the other to “get real”.

Although senior cabinet members including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove are reportedly urging compromise to avoid a no-deal exit, “Johnson last night said he would not row back on his Brexit red lines”, the paper adds.

A No. 10 source told Cole that “it’s not a secret that the Treasury has always been anti-no-deal and Michael Gove has concerns about the union”. Meanwhile, an official Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that “key elements of the draft text are not agreed”, but insisted that “the government is united behind the negotiation position”. 

Lawyers for the EU are “looking into plans to rush through a Brexit deal before the end of the year”, even if talks drag on into December as a result of the disagreements over fishing rights and state aid payments, Sky News says.

One scenario laid out by the bloc’s legal experts would “remove the need to have it ratified by every European parliament”, meaning “it would only require the approval of EU leaders and the European Parliament”, the broadcaster reports.

Frost’s reported comments to the prime minister have raised hopes of a deal, after the negotiating chief committed to upholding Johnson’s red lines in crunch talks resuming this week.

But as the Financial Times notes, while Frost is “hanging tough” during the last-ditch negotiations, “he once felt far less bullish about the likely outcomes of such negotiations”.

In a pamphlet published just before the 2016 referendum, Frost wrote that in trade talks with the EU, “it will be Britain that has to make the concessions to get the deal”.

“True, other countries will want deals too, but they won’t be under anything like the same time pressure and can afford to make us sweat,” he added.

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