Brexit showdown: Boris Johnson enters crunch talks with EU chief von der Leyen NEXT WEEK

Brexit showdown: Boris Johnson enters crunch talks with EU chief von der Leyen NEXT WEEK
www.express.co.uk The Prime Minister will sit down with his Brussels counterpart on January 8 for bilateral talks, just weeks before Britain is set to leave the European Union. It is likely the two leaders will attempt to steal an early march on the trade negotiations, which Mr Johnson wants to have wrapped up by the end of 2020. Ms von der Leyen has expressed doubt that the UK and EU can secure a comprehensive trade pact in the 11-month timetable set by the Prime Minister.
No official agenda has been released for their meeting but Brexit is likely to take centerstage. The UK and EU Parliaments will ratify Mr Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal agreement in the coming weeks, allowing both sides to start work on their future relationship. The huge majority achieved by the Conservatives at last month’s general election has handed the Prime Minister considerable negotiating powers, with opposition MPs unable to mount their own challenges to his plans. Despite doomed to failure, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will launch an attempt to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill. The election loser has tabled an amendment to the Bill being debated by MPs in the House of Commons next week that revive accusations that Labour is attempting to block Brexit.
Labour is pushing to force Mr Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period, during which Britain will continue to follow EU rules, until 2023 if there is no deal by June. The Prime Minister’s parliamentary majority of 80 means Mr Corbyn’s attempt to derail Britain’s departure is merely the final desperate act in his failed leadership of the Labour Party. Mr Johnson will use his majority to ensure Britain leaves the EU after January 31 and that the transition period will not go beyond this year. If he decides to U-turn, the UK and EU have until July to agree a one-off extension of either one or two years to the transition period.
In Brussels, Ms von der Leyen and her chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, are working on drawing up a mandate for the next round of talks with Britain. Senior EU diplomats are scheduled to hold a series of meeting in the Belgian capital this month before the bloc’s leaders sign off on their negotiating terms. Last month, Ms von der Leyen suggested Mr Johnson should reconsider his negotiating timetable to allow for an extension to the transition period. In an interview with a French newspaper, she said: “I am very concerned about how little time we have. “It seems to me that, on both sides, we should seriously consider whether the negotiations are feasible in such a short time.” “I think it would be reasonable to take stock in the middle of the year and if necessary, agree on an extension to the transition period,” she added.
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Boris Johnson to enter crunch Brexit talks with EU chief von der Leyen NEXT WEEK

The Prime Minister will sit down with his Brussels counterpart on January 8 for bilateral talks, just weeks before Britain is set to leave the European Union. It is likely the two leaders will attempt to steal an early march on the trade negotiations, which Mr Johnson wants to have wrapped up by the end of 2020.

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