Talks between the UK Government and the EU over the final exit deal will spill over into next week.
Leaders on both sides had agreed Sunday would be the deadline for negotiations, however in a joint statement it has been decided each will “go the extra mile”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “We had a useful phone call this morning. We discussed the major unresolved topics.
“Our negotiating teams have been working day and night over recent days.
“And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.
We had a useful call with @BorisJohnson this morning.
We agreed that talks will continue.https://t.co/rZpN4PmS1i
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 13, 2020
“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached.”
PM warns still of ‘no-deal’
Speaking in Downing Street, Boris Johnson said there is a Brexit trade “deal to be done” but warned that the UK and EU “remain very far apart” on the key issues.
He said: “We are always happy to talk and to make progress where we can. I do think, as I say, there is a deal to be done if our partners want to do it. But we remain very far apart on these key issues.
Either way, whatever happens, the UK will do very, very well.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
“And you know what they are – the UK can’t be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit and we’ve obviously got to take back control of our fisheries four-and-a-half years after people voted for it.
“So those are the points. I think that it is very clear what the UK is talking about, let’s see what we can achieve.
“But in the meantime, get ready, with confidence, for January 1 – trade on WTO terms if we have to.
He added: “The idea was when we went out on Wednesday, the hope was we were going to be able to finish things off today if there was a deal to be done.
“As things stand, and this is what Ursula (von der Leyen) and I agreed, I’m afraid we are still very far apart on some key things.
“But where there is life, there’s hope. We are going to keep talking to see what we can do.
“The UK certainly won’t be walking away from the talks. I think people will expect us to go the extra mile.
“I think the UK should continue to try, and I think that is what the people of this country would want me to do.
“We’re going to continue to try and we’re going to try with all our hearts and be as creative as we possibly can, but what we can’t do is compromise on that fundamental nature of what Brexit is all about which is us being able to control our laws, control our fisheries, it’s very, very simple.
“I think our friends get it, and we remain willing to talk and will continue to do so.
“But in the meantime let’s get ready for the WTO option and that’s what I told the Cabinet.
“Either way, whatever happens, the UK will do very, very well.”
No-deal must be ‘ruled out’
Cabinet Secretary for Europe and External Affairs Michael Russell said: “It is now time for the crippling uncertainty over the future of our trading relationship with the European Union to come to an end.
“Whatever the outcome of these protracted talks we know there will be very significant damage to Scotland’s economy and society because of the UK Government’s decision to leave the transition period on December 31 in the middle of a pandemic and a recession.
“But we also know that the worst outcome of all would be the disastrous impact of a no deal Brexit which would lead to significant tariffs and the UK Government must rule this out immediately.”