Boris Johnson to open trade talks with EC President Ursula Von Der Leyen

6th January 2020

Mr Johnson will host the newly appointed President in Downing Street this week.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to host the President of the European Commission (Commission), Ursula Von Der Leyen, at the Office of the Prime Minister, this week.

Mr Johnson is preparing to take Britain out of the trading-bloc by the end of January, which will kick off a race against time to secure a free trade deal by the end of 2020.

After securing a comfortable majority at the polls, the Conservative Party is likely to press on with the PM’s Brexit Bill and have it passed through the House of Commons for its final reading at the earliest, after MPs return to work on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson is expected to underscore the UK’s reluctance to extend the transition period beyond December 2020 when meeting with Ms Von Der Leyen. Under the transitional period, the UK is still subject to most EU rules and structures.

The PM campaigned vociferously to ‘get Brexit done,’ making it the central focus of his electoral campaign.

Following the December snap election, Government reconvened Parliament so that the Brexit bill could pass through its second reading before Christmas.

Apart from the new Northern Ireland protocol, negotiated by Mr Johnson, the majority of the Brexit Bill is similar to that of former PM Theresa May’s. One notable distinction however is the addition of a clause preventing ministers from extending the 31st December 2020 end-date for the transition period.

The UK Government’s chief negotiator in Brussels, David Frost, will have the monumental task of securing a free trade agreement with the EU which could come into force by the end of the year. Senior Brussels figures have been quoted as suggesting that the task is not doable.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told MEPs last month: “It is unrealistic that a global negotiation can be done in 11 months, so we can’t do it all. We will do all we can to get what I call the ‘vital minimum’ to establish a relationship with the UK if that is the timescale.”

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Boris Johnson to open trade talks with EC President Ursula Von Der Leyen