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Brexit: PM says deal 'still there to be done' ahead of crunch trip

Boris Johnson - Wikipedia

 Boris Johnson has said the EU is insisting on terms "no prime minister could accept" in UK-EU trade talks.

The PM told MPs "a good deal is still there to be done", ahead of post-Brexit deal negotiations with the European Commission president.

But he said the EU was seeking an "automatic right" to retaliate against the UK if its labour and environmental standards diverged from theirs.

He will have dinner with the EU chief Ursula von der Leyen this evening.

The prime minister also suggested the EU could not accept the UK having sovereign control over its fishing waters after Brexit, as he answered questions at Prime Minister's Questions.

Time is running out to reach a deal before 31 December, when the UK stops following EU trading rules.

Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition rules and how a deal will be policed.

At the dinner, expected to begin at 19:00 GMT, the prime minister will work through a list of the major sticking points with Mrs von der Leyen, who is representing the leaders of the 27 EU nations.

A UK government source said progress at a political level may allow the negotiations - between the UK's Lord Frost and EU's Michel Barnier - to resume over the coming days.

But the source added that it was important to be "realistic" that an agreement might not be possible.

'Deal still there'

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson warned that a deal would not be possible if the EU continued to insist that if it was to pass a new law in the future - and the UK did not follow suit - it wanted the "automatic right punish us and retaliate" with tariffs on goods.

"I don't believe that those are terms that any prime minister of this country should accept," he said.

He also claimed that it wanted the UK to become the "only country in the world" not to have "sovereign control over its fishing waters.


BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says that the purpose of the dinner is not to call a halt or to proclaim that a deal's been done.

"The reason for the meeting is to see if both sides are willing in principle to tolerate the notion of budging, after the negotiations, and frankly negotiators, have been exhausted," she says.

EU leaders are due to meet for a summit of their own on Thursday.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a Brexit deal was still possible but insisted that the integrity of the EU single market must be respected.

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