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Boris Johnson is merely feigning interest in a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, the former UK ambassador to the EU has claimed. The former civil servant said the Prime Minister was firmly pursuing a no deal outcome.
Ahead of yesterday’s meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Mr Rogers said many in Europe felt Mr Johnson’s visit was just for show.
He said European negotiations believed the meeting was “just a necessary step in the framing of the blame game for a ‘no deal’ outcome”.
Furthermore, the former civil servant claimed Mr Johnson’s recent actions suggested he was pursuing a no deal outcome.
He told Politico: “If I were advising someone who actively wanted a deal, I would have been advising him to get heavily engaged in serious face-to-face discussions at top-level very much earlier.
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“If I were advising someone who did not much care about a deal but wanted to be seen by the British public to have tried his utmost, then I might be doing my first serious face-to-face meeting with the Commission president this week.”
Mr Johnson visited Brussels last night to meet with Mrs von der Leyen in a last-ditch bid to break the current Brexit deadlock.
The two leaders discussed the potential trade deal over a three-course dinner.
However, the meeting appeared to make little difference to the state of negotiations with both leaders stating key differences prevail.
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They agreed to make a “firm decision” about the future of the talks by the end of the weekend.
Following the conclusion of the three-hour dinner, a senior No10 source said it was “unclear” whether progress could be made this week.
They said: “The PM and VDL had a frank discussion about the significant obstacles which remain in the negotiations.
“Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged.
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“The PM and VDL agreed to further discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams.
“The PM does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested.
“The PM and VDL agreed that by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks.”
A Downing Street spokesman added: “Any agreement must respect the independence and sovereignty of the UK”.
Currently the talks are deadlocked over fishing rights, the level playing field and state subsidises.
Ms von der Leyen reiterated that positions between Britain and the EU remained “far apart”.
She said in a statement: “We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play across the list of outstanding issues.
“We gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain far apart.
“We agreed that the teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these essential issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.”
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