“Just a few hours” remain for London and Brussels to strike a Brexit trade deal, the EU’s chief negotiator said in European Parliament this morning.
“We have very little time remaining, just a few hours to work through these negotiations in a useful fashion if we want this agreement to enter into force on the first of January,” he said.
It comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that both sides continue to negotiate terms of Brexit ahead of the 31 December deadline.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this evening about the state of play in the UK / EU negotiations.
“The Prime Minister underlined that the negotiations were now in a serious situation. Time was very short and it now looked very likely that agreement would not be reached unless the EU position changed substantially.
“He said that we were making every effort to accommodate reasonable EU requests on the level playing field, but even though the gap had narrowed some fundamental areas remained difficult.
“On fisheries he stressed that the UK could not accept a situation where it was the only sovereign country in the world not to be able to control access to its own waters for an extended period and to be faced with fisheries quotas which hugely disadvantaged its own industry. The EU’s position in this area was simply not reasonable and if there was to be an agreement it needed to shift significantly.
“The Prime Minister repeated that little time was left. He said that, if no agreement could be reached, the UK and the EU would part as friends, with the UK trading with the EU on Australian-style terms.
“The leaders agreed to remain in close contact.”