Which issues were on the menu at Johnson-von der Leyen dinner?
Downing Street says ‘very large gaps remain’ as odds shorten on no-deal Brexit
Boris Johnson’s dinner meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ended without agreement last night, raising the chances of a no-deal Brexit.
After the leaders outlined their respective positions over a three-course meal of scallops, turbot and pavlova, von der Leyen said the two sides were still “far apart”, while Downing Street said “very large gaps remain”.
A key sticking point is that Johnson insists he cannot accept terms in a treaty that would tie Britain to EU rules - a “hugely sensitive” issue that has plagued negotiations, notes the BBC.
Another hurdle is the EU’s demand for an “evolution” or “ratchet” clause to ensure that as one side upgrades its standards, the other is not able to enjoy a competitive advantage. Other issues such as fishing rights and dispute resolution also remain barriers to progress.
Talks will now continue, with Sunday set as a “point of finality” for the negotiations, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Downing Street said the meeting in Brussels had been “frank”, which The Guardian interprets as a “diplomatic expression for a heated conversation”. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, says a “dramatic night over fish supper” ended in “deadlock”, as significant differences seem no closer to being resolved.
Bookies SBK is now offering odds of 11/9 for the UK and the EU signing a trade deal by the end of the year, with odds of 5/4 against. Financial News says the odds of a deal have now fallen from 64.5% on Monday to 43.4% today.