The Prime Minister’s official spokesman today confirmed Mr Johnson would speak directly to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow afternoon in a move which would seem to confirm previous suggestions that chief negotiator Michel Barnier was being sidelined. However, several high-profile Brexit backers said they were concerned at the reports, fearing what the outcome might be.
Former Brexit Party MEP and Conservative Party minister Ann Widdecombe told Express.co.uk: “At the moment because we are in the last couple of weeks rumours are going to be rife.
“The fact is that coming up to the deadline for these negotiations, we have not made progress.
“The only progress that has been made is with the Internal Market Bill when the EU has recognised that it is not going to get its own way.”
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He explained: “I am worried that Government might agree to a three-year phasing out of EU vessels fishing in British waters – that must not happen.
“EU fishermen have already had four years since our vote to contemplate the need to buy licences to fish in our waters.
“We should not compromise on this one inch.
David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group, told Express.co.uk he had heard “whispers” of such a deal.
He said: “They’re going to have to have some sort of transitional arrangement over a few years.
“That would be reasonable for both sides.
However, he added: “We can’t sacrifice anything in terms of sovereignty over British waters.
“If they want to have access they must pay, and the better the access, the more they must pay.”
Brussels sources told Express.co.uk’s Brussels correspondent Joe Barnes British negotiators have indicated a willingness to compromise to secure a deal.
One diplomat said: “This is a good sign. I hope there will be forthcoming signals on the two main outstanding issues – fish and state aid.”
Both sides are hoping the video-call pave the way for entering the so-called “tunnel”, secretive negotiations aimed at sewing up a wide-ranging trade deal.
Mr Barnier himself is said to be highly doubtful such an aim is realistic.