Fish on the menu for Johnson and von der Leyen’s crunch dinner


Fish has proved one of the most difficult parts of a Brexit trade deal to swallow for the negotiating teams, but it was served to Boris Johnson on a plate during crunch talks in Brussels.

The Prime Minister dined on a starter of scallops and a main course of steamed turbot when he met with the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday evening.

The two leaders were joined by their chief negotiators and officials for the three-course dinner at the Berlaymont building aimed at breaking the deadlock in the protracted trade deal talks.


Negotiations have faltered on fishing rights, among other issues, and the Commission’s menu will be seen as a pointed gesture by some but a sign that it has a sense of humour by others.

Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen were served pumpkin soup and scallops to start, followed by a main course of steamed turbot, mashed potatoes with wasabi and vegetables.

For pudding they ate pavlova with exotic fruit and coconut sorbet, but the Commission stopped short of serving another popular meringue-and-cream dessert, the Eton Mess, believed to originate from the Prime Minister’s alma mater.

The starter may invoke memories of the “scallop wars” in 2018 when British and French fishing fleets clashed in a dispute about access to fishing grounds in the Baie de Seine.

But the fish-themed menu will certainly remind Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen of the headache they face in reaching an agreement on access to the UK’s waters after December 31.

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