Boris Johnson warned he must cave to EU governance demands to get Brexit deal done

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Boris Johnson will be heading to Brussels this week to take charge of the Brexit negotiations with European Union’s Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Talks have been hindered from the start as divergence on fishing, governance and state aid remained wide due to the UK and the EU both refusing to relent on their red lines. But the Prime Minister has been warned he must compromise for a deal to be struck before the transition period ends in December.

The warning came from former Prime Minister Theresa May’s top aide, Gavin Barwell, who insisted the UK has more to cave to than Brussels.

Baron Barwell told the Today programme: “I think it’s unlikely he would be going to Brussels if he thought there was no chance at all of a deal.

“I don’t think this is all just theatrics but in order to get a deal both sides will have to compromise. There are clearly some significant gaps still between them.

“And I think probably more on the UK side on these so-called level playing field provisions, what commitments we are prepared to make in order to get tariff-free access to the single market.

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“On the EU side, probably more on the fishing issue.”

Baron Barwell said one-on-one meetings are “always preferable to a phone call” as Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen will have a better opportunity to explore “all the avenues that you can explore.”

He also suggested the two leaders could make far more progress than their respective negotiators as they are not as restricted by the mandate given to Michel Barnier and Lord Frost.

The former Government adviser also insisted the British Government should not be surprised by the tough stance Emmanuel Macron took up in the latter phase of the talks, noting the French leader had warned he would push for a strongly beneficial deal for the EU from the start.

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