Boris Johnson Gets Ready for a Showdown With New EU Chief Over Brexit

Published January 8th, 2020 - 08:03 GMT
In this file photo taken on December 13, 2019 President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen looks on during a press conference at the Europa building in Brussels. EU chief Ursula von der Leyen urged Iran and Iraq on January 6, 2020 not to further escalate a crisis in the region as tensions with Washington soared following a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 13, 2019 President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen looks on during a press conference at the Europa building in Brussels. EU chief Ursula von der Leyen urged Iran and Iraq on January 6, 2020 not to further escalate a crisis in the region as tensions with Washington soared following a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
Highlights
Mr Johnson's new 80-strong majority in the House has increased his negotiating leverage.

Boris Johnson is bracing for a showdown with new EU chief Ursula von der Leyen in Downing Street today as he vows the Brexit transition will not be extended past December.

The Prime Minister will use his first official meeting with commission president Ursula von der Leyen to warn that there is a hard deadline to thrash out a trade deal.

Ms von der Leyen and EU negotiator Michel Barnier - who will also be at No10 this afternoon - have already branded the schedule 'unrealistic', suggesting more time will be needed.

In another pressure tactic, it has emerged that Mr Barnier has been sabre-rattling over protections for EU citizens living in the UK, calling for a fully independent watchdog to guarantee their rights. 

The talks come as Britain took another step towards formally leaving the bloc, with the Withdrawal Agreement Bill continuing its progress through the Commons.

Mr Johnson's new 80-strong majority in the House has increased his negotiating leverage.  

The tough stance revealed by a No 10 source means there are just 11 months to hammer out a trade deal after the UK leaves the EU at the end of this month.

The PM will also tell Mrs von der Leyen he wants a Canada-style free trade agreement without the close political alignment once planned by Theresa May.

The leaders will hold talks this afternoon and be joined by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. 

But the EU will not start detailed trade talks until the UK has left and it has agreed a negotiating mandate with other members, which is not likely until late March.

Mr Johnson could begin immediate trade talks with Washington to spur on the EU.

Meanwhile, Labour last night dropped an attempt to extend the transition period by another two years.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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