'No deal' looms as EU, UK set Sunday deadline to agree Brexit trade pact

Britain and the EU have given themselves three more days to agree a Brexit trade deal, following “lively” and “frank” talks over dinner between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen Wednesday.

The leaders of the UK and the EU executive were unable to bridge the “wide gaps” that have prevented a deal, with just weeks to go before the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union on 31 December.

Despite nine months of talks, three major sticking points remain: European fishing rights in British waters, fairness in competitions rules and the enforcement of a trade agreement.

“We agreed that the (negotiating) teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these essential issues,” von der Leyen said after the dinner, adding that both sides had gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions - which remained “far apart”.

“We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.”

A senior source in the British prime minister’s office said in a statement that Johnson did not want to leave “any route to a possible deal untested”.

Around $1 trillion in annual trade – currently free from tariffs and quotas – is at stake if there is no agreement by Sunday.

(With Reuters)