Brexit LIVE: Boris Johnson to demand Macron MUST cave on fishing in make-or-break summit

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He will be emboldened by Angela Merkel’s support for this week’s historic fisheries pact signed by the UK and Norway, which the German Chancellor said “shows that one can find ways to come to an agreement”. This afternoon’s meeting between Mr Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen will be a chance for the pair to “take stock of negotiations and discuss next steps” after the week-long trade talks in Brussels wrapped up without a deal in sight.

The French President’s stubborn Brexit approach has been at odds with fellow leaders across the continent.

Mr Macron continues to dig in his heels and demand the EU take a tough line on fishing rights for European fishermen, as France is a major beneficiary of access to British seas.

The young president has insisted the status quo be maintained.

This means fishing catches in the 1970s largely form the bases of catches for fishermen today.

This system is completely at odds with the UK’s desire to take back control of its own waters and get a fair deal for British fishermen, who have long complained their waters are being fleeced by foreign boats at their expense.

David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned of a “very large” gap between both sides on fishing, one of the most contentious tops up for discussion.

And in a dig at his European counterpart Michel Barnier, Lord Frost said the bloc needed to show “realism and flexibility” if any progress was to be made.

In a statement released following his meeting with Mr Barnier, Lord Frost said: “On fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge.

“These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.”

But Mr Johnson struck a more optimistic note, saying he felt “pretty optimistic” about striking a trade deal with Brussels ahead of his weekend meeting with Ms von der Leyen.

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8.09am update: Negotiators planning ‘tunnel’ talks in London

Boris Johnson said he is “pretty optimistic” about striking a trade deal while Ursula von der Leyen’s remarks that talks need to “intensify” have sparked speculation that an agreement could be reached before mid-October.

The Prime Minister has said an agreement would have to be in place before the EU Council meeting on October 15.

The Financial Times reported that both sides are set to agree to further last-ditch discussions, dubbed “the tunnel”.

These could take place either in London or Brussels, but negotiators are leaning towards holding them on the UK side of the water.

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