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Tue, 7 July 2020

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Boris Johnson urged to show ‘political leadership’ to break Brexit talks deadlock

Boris Johnson urged to show ‘political leadership’ to break Brexit talks deadlock

Talks have stalled between the UK and the bloc (PA)

2 min read

Boris Johnson and the EU need to demonstrate “political leadership” and a “willingness to compromise” if a deal on a future relationship is to be reached before this year, MPs have warned.

A new report by Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union said urged ministers to undertake “intensified face-to-face negotiations” as soon as coronavirus restrictions allow if they hope to achieve a breakthrough.

Talks between Britain and the bloc remain at an impasse over issues such as access to the UK's fishing waters, cross-border law enforcement, and the EU’s demand for a host of “level-playing field” commitments on rights and standards.

And the Government has since formally rejected the EU’s offer of an extension to the current transition period, meaning the UK will leave the single market on 31 December if an agreement is not reached.

In a report published on Friday, the Committee called for more detail to be provided on the checks that will be required on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

And they demanded more clarity from ministers on how future border arrangements will work.

The Government is also being told to ramp up preparations for the possibility of no agreement being reached.

Chair of the committee Hilary Benn said: “Covid-19 has understandably dominated the efforts of political leaders in Europe since March, but negotiations with the EU remain critically important to the UK’s economic future."

And the senior Labour MP added: "Whilst both sets of negotiators have worked hard in challenging circumstances, it has become increasingly clear that political leadership is needed if an agreement is to be reached in time to prevent the UK leaving the transition period on 31 December 2020 without an agreement.

“With the global economy facing an unprecedented economic shock as a result of Covid-19 and just over four months left in effect to reach an agreement, both sides must show a willingness to compromise on the areas currently in dispute.”

The intervention comes after Boris Johnson held talks with EU representatives on Monday in a bid to revive the faltering negotiations.

Following the “high level” video conference call with leaders including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, the two sides issued a joint statement agreeing that “new momentum” was needed and vowing to “intensify the talks” over the summer. 

The Government has been approached for comment.

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