Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen spoke on the phone this evening (Picture: Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and the European Commission president have asked their negotiators to ‘prepare an overview of the remaining differences’ after speaking for more than 90 minutes on the phone.
In a joint statement, the Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen said they had ‘taken stock of the ongoing negotiations’ and agreed that ‘significant differences’ on governance, fisheries and a level playing field remain between them.
They then confirmed that they would work together in person to try and resolve the issues. They said: ‘We asked our chief negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days.’
The level playing field refers to the extent to which the UK will follow EU rules following Brexit, while governance involves how the two parties will enforce any deal and resolve disputes.
Fishing, which has long been a sticking issue between the two, relates to the UK’s demand that fisherman have the right to all fish in its waters. In contrast, the EU wants access for its boats in a quota system, which shares fish among member states.
Johnson and von der Leyen began their second phone call in little over 48 hours at 4pm this evening, before taking a short break around 5pm. They are thought to have spoken for around 90 minutes altogether.
The Prime Minister will travel to Brussels (Picture: Downing Street)
Fishing remains one of the three crucial sticking points for both sides (Picture: EPA)
Earlier today the PM’s spokesperson said he was prepared to continue talks for ‘as long as we have time available’, but also admitted time was in ‘very short supply’. There are now just over three weeks until the end of the transition period.
A Downing Street source said Johnson’s trip to Brussels did not mean a deal was guaranteed. They told The Guardian there had been ‘no tangible progress’ in negotiations.
They went on: ‘It’s clear this must now continue politically. Whilst we do not consider this process to be closed, things are looking very tricky and there’s every chance we are not going to get there.’
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