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Brexit: Boris Johnson tells EU to shift its stance ‘substantially’ with trade talks in ‘serious situation’


The PM speaks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with two weeks left until the end of the transition period.


Boris Johnson has told EU chief Ursula von der Leyen that Brexit trade talks are now in “a serious situation” and that a no-deal outcome is “very likely” unless the EU changes its stance “substantially”.


The prime minister spoke to the European Commission president by phone on Thursday evening, in which the two leaders took stock of the current state of EU-UK negotiations.

It comes ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period in two weeks’ time.


During the call, Mr Johnson “underlined that the negotiations were now in a serious situation”, a Downing Street spokesperson said.


The prime minister told Ms Von der Leyen that “time was very short and it now looked very likely that agreement would not be reached unless the EU position changed substantially”, Number 10 said.

The spokesperson added: “He said that we were making every effort to accommodate reasonable EU requests on the level playing field, but even though the gap had narrowed some fundamental areas remained difficult.”

So-called level playing field provisions are commitments to fair competition and a set of common rules and standards between the UK and the EU, although the prime minister is keen not to have the UK too closely bound to new Brussels regulations.


Continuing differences over state aid rules remain a stumbling block to an agreement in this area, according to UK sources.


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