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Boris Johnson stressed while companies have been “terribly busy with Covid”, they must now get ready for the end of the Brexit transition on December 31. Michael Gove, who appeared alongside Mr Johnson on the 21-minute call, likened Brexit to moving house – initially expensive but with long-term benefits. The Prime Minister and Mr Gove spoke to 250 business leaders in the video call.
Mr Johnson added that the departure from the EU should be a “moment of change and dynamism for the UK” that will provide businesses with “fantastic opportunities”.
The Prime Minister said: “Our job is to create the platform for dynamic businesses such as yours to compete and to grow.
“But it is vital that everybody on this call takes seriously the need to get ready, because whatever happens – whether it’s Canada or Australia – change is going to happen.
“There is a big opportunity for this country and we want to help all of you to seize that opportunity.”
The call came after the PM on Friday said the UK must prepare for the transition to end without a Brexit trade deal, and with a default to World Trade Organisation terms for trading with the EU.
Trade talks between the UK and the European Union remain in limbo despite further discussions between the two sides.
Lead negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier spoke yesterday but Downing Street said there had not been a breakthrough.
Talks on the future trading relationship between the UK and EU stalled last week and Downing Street has insisted there is no point in resuming negotiations unless Brussels is prepared to fundamentally change its position in key areas.
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Brussels said both sides will need to compromise if an agreement is to be reached, with time running out for a deal to be in place when the transition arrangements expire at the end of the year.
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters in Brussels: “I think it is pretty obvious that in order to come to an agreement both sides need to meet and this is also obviously the case in this negotiation.”
Following his talks with Lord Frost, Mr Barnier said: “My message: we should be making the most out of the little time left. Our door remains open.”
A Number 10 spokesman said: “Lord Frost and Michel Barnier had a constructive discussion.
“The situation remained as yesterday, and they will remain in contact.”
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Downing Street wants a “clear assurance” that the EU is prepared to make a “fundamental change in approach” to the talks.
Detlef Seif, who is Brexit envoy for Angela Merkel’s party in the German parliament, said: “At the moment, I see the chances worse than 50-50.
“Britain must move on the issue of the level playing field – the principle of equal competition conditions, state support, and also on the dispute resolution mechanism.
“That means, for me really the ball is still in Britain’s court at the moment.
“If it is kicked back reasonably, then we can definitely readjust this or that – including fisheries. But unfortunately, we are not there yet.”
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