PM and EU chief to ‘take stock’ of post-Brexit trade talks in phone call

Downing Street said a phone conversation between Boris Johnson and the president of the European Commission would allow the leaders to “take stock” of the negotiations.

The Prime Minister is due to speak to his Brussels counterpart Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday to discuss the state-of-play in the deadlocked trade talks.

Briefings between the two leaders are seen as key moments in the cross-Channel bartering, with their conversation last month seeing discussions “intensified” before a fallout after the European Council meeting on October 15 briefly derailed the negotiations.

A Number 10 spokesman said on Friday: “The Prime Minister will speak to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow afternoon to take stock of the UK-EU negotiations.”

UK chief negotiator Lord Frost was in the Belgian capital to speak face-to-face with his European Union counterpart Michel Barnier earlier this week.

Meetings between the pair are due to continue next week in London after both agreed there continued to be gaps in the UK and the bloc’s positions as the deadline for doing a deal edges closer.

After talks finished on Wednesday, Mr Barnier briefed MEPs and EU diplomats that “very serious divergences” remained, with only 54 days left until the end of the transition period.

He said the main stumbling blocks continued to be around the “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on areas including state subsidies, fisheries policy and the governance of any deal.

Lord Frost previously said progress had been made during two weeks of intensive talks but “wide divergences remain on some core issues”.

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