Today, Boris Johnson will meet President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Downing Street for the first time to discuss Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal. The visit comes ahead of Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc, which is expected to take place on January 31, and officially kicks off a race against time to secure a free trade deal. Mr Johnson is expected to use this meeting with Dr von der Leyen to highlight the Government’s determination not to extend the transition period beyond December 2020.
Dr Von der Leyen previously cast doubt on the chances of reaching a deal by the end of this year, but Mr Johnson’s position already appears much better than the one his predecessor was in.
While Theresa May’s minority government was propped up by 10 DUP MPs, Mr Johnson is now the most successful Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher.
Moreover, according to 2016 reports, the ex-Prime Minister’s negotiating hand was heavily damaged when Jeremy Corbyn invited a string of EU leaders to his own Brexit summit in Brussels before she had even opened formal negotiations with the bloc.
As Theresa May attended her first EU summit as Prime Minister in October 2016, the Labour leader followed her to Brussels to meet with his fellow European socialist leaders.
Mr Corbyn announced he was going to have an alternative summit, which would have shown that there was a different “way forward in Europe” to the Government’s “chaotic” plans for leaving the EU.
The veteran left-winger met four politicians from EU member states – including Bulgaria’s Sergei Stanishev – who told him they were “disappointed” with the British Government’s approach to Brexit so far.
The Tories immediately accused Mr Corbyn of trying to sabotage Mrs May’s negotiations.
Conservative MP Maria Caulfield said: “If Jeremy Corbyn was serious about making a success of leaving the EU he would get behind the Prime Minister’s negotiation – not try and talk Britain down from the sidelines.
“The Conservative Party are committed to making a success of Brexit.
“Labour want to delay it, obstruct it and subvert the will of the British people.”
Express.co.uk contacted Mr Corbyn for clarification as to what his alternative EU summit would entail at the time.
A party spokesman said: “Progressive leaders across the EU will be invited to London in February to a dinner with the Shadow Cabinet, followed by a conference which will include speakers from parts of society that have not had their voices heard in the Brexit debate.
“This will include business, NGOs and trade unions.”
Labour suffered a humiliating electoral failure in the December 12 general election.
Mr Corbyn lost 59 seats – the most devastating result for a Labour leader since 1935.
Today, Boris Johnson will meet President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Downing Street for the first time to discuss Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal. The visit comes ahead of Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc, which is expected to take place on January 31, and officially kicks off a race against time to secure a free trade deal.