PM to speak to European Commission president as Brexit deal deadline approaches

Boris Johnson will speak to the president of the European Commission on Wednesday afternoon as his deadline for progress in post-Brexit trade talks draws near.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss progress in the negotiations with Ursula von der Leyen ahead of Thursday’s summit of European Union leaders.

Mr Johnson wants to know if a trade deal is possible by Thursday, when the leaders of the 27 EU countries meet in Brussels.

He told Cabinet ministers on Tuesday that he still believes an agreement can be reached – but that failing to do so should hold “no fear”, his official spokesman said.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, has suggested that talks will go beyond Mr Johnson’s October deadline.

Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s Europe adviser, will be taking part in negotiations in Brussels until the eve of the summit.

European Council president Charles Michel said members would discuss the EU-UK negotiations with Mr Barnier before dinner at the summit on Thursday.

In an invitation letter to Council members, Mr Michel wrote: “It is in the interests of both sides to have an agreement in place before the end of the transition period. This cannot, however, happen at any price. The coming days are decisive.

“I will invite our negotiator to update us on the latest developments. Key issues include, in particular, the level playing field, fisheries and governance.”