The EU and UK have agreed to continue negotiations to secure a Brexit deal, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced.

On Sunday, the Commission president had a “constructive and useful” phone call with Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, where they discussed the outstanding stumbling blocks to a deal.

“Our negotiation teams have been working day and night over recent days and despite the exhaustion after almost one year of negotiations and despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we both think that it is responsible at this point in time to go the extra mile.

“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether agreement can be reached, even at this late stage.

“The negotiations continue here in Brussels,” she said.

Deal to be done

Agreement on fisheries has been the major issue which both sides have failed to reach agreement on, with Boris Johnson noting this on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

However, the British prime minister has said he thinks there is a deal to be done.

“We remain very far apart on the issues. The UK can’t be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit and we’ve obviously got to take back control of fisheries,” he said.

No deadline has been set for these talks to conclude and with the transition period ending on 31 December 2020, time is running out to a secure a deal.

“Talks must continue”

IFA president Tim Cullinan welcomed the announcement that the Brexit talks would continue, saying there was no point in setting deadlines for the talks, adding that talks must continue until there is an agreement.

It is time to put egos aside. History will judge everyone very harshly if a deal is not done

“The reality is that even if we don’t have a deal by 1 January, the talks will have to continue until a deal is reached.

“It would be disastrous for Irish farming if a deal is not done in time for 1 January. We hear a lot of talk about ‘optics’ and ‘perception’ in relation to the negotiations, but all this grandstanding has to stop. It is time to put egos aside. History will judge everyone very harshly if a deal is not done,” he said.

He reiterated the fact that Irish farming will be the worst-affected sector in the worst-affected country in the event of no deal.

“We met with the Ulster Farmers Union on Friday to discuss the Northern Ireland protocol and the talks. Farmers here, in Northern Ireland, in the UK and across Europe all need a deal,” he said.

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