A senior British source has said that a deal is now possible and the two sides are in a position to start writing the text for a treaty. However, the EU’s continued demands on access to British fishing waters and so called level playing field provisions is imperilling the talks. Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is under new pressure from Brexiteers including senior Tory MPs not to surrender to EU demands with a new checklist produced to see if any deal meets the standards required by campaigners. Following, the discussion between the Prime Minister and Ms von dr Leyan, yesterday, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister set out that, while some progress had been made in recent discussions, significant differences remain in a number of areas, including the so-called level playing field and fish.
“The Prime Minister and President agreed that their negotiating teams would continue talks in London next week, beginning on Monday, in order to redouble efforts to reach a deal.
“They agreed to remain in personal contact about the negotiations.”
But a source close to the negotiating team said that the talks are still bogged down because of the EU’s refusal to respect British red lines.
Just over two weeks ago, the EU finally conceded to UK demands to talk across all areas of any potential free trade agreement, and to knuckle down and work on legal texts. Since then there have been round-the-clock intensive talks in both London and Brussels.
There has been some progress, but the EU’s current approach is not going to get a deal over the line.
A source close to the negotiations said: “It’s now clear that the process could allow for an agreement, but it’s a shame this is having to be done so quickly because of the EU’s foot-dragging until very recently. And there is still a long way to go; a deal is by no means certain unless we see a change of approach from Michel Barnier and his team.”
According to sources the Prime Minister still believes it is worth trying to reach a deal, and the teams will continue to negotiate intensively to see if the gaps can be narrowed. Michel Barnier and his team will travel to London on Sunday to resume intensive negotiations from tomorrow morning.
A UK government source said: “Unfortunately we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped during this intensive talks so far. We still need more realism from the EU. They can’t expect us to agree to a Treaty under which we can’t move away from EU norms in important areas. And they don’t seem to have realised the scale of change in fishing rights they face if there is no agreement.
“It is clear that time is incredibly short. Ratification puts more time pressure on the EU than the UK. The EU have to translate any agreement into 24 languages and get it through the European Parliament. “The UK will continue to work with energy and ambition to see if the remaining gaps can be closed. We hope for the same from the EU.”
But former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is now leading efforts to make sure the Prime Minister does not compromise too much in a trade deal. He has worked with the Centre for Brexit Policy (CBP) to come up with a checklist of demands.
The CBP has said that any Brexit deal the Prime Minister agrees with the EU must “take back control of our laws, borders, money and fisheries” or else he will “break our promise to those who voted for us”.
Sir Iain said: “The Conservative Party must uphold the manifesto commitments of 2019.
“That manifesto made it explicitly clear, we would take back control of our laws, borders, money and fisheries.
“A manifesto is a binding contract with the British people which means we cannot have any part of the UK remaining part of the EU customs union or single market.
“The withdrawal agreement, (WA) leaves us subject to the European Court of Justice which if we strike a trade deal would breach our manifesto pledge to the British people. This is why unless the WA is changed, then any deal will break our promise to those who voted for us.”