Good morning. Boris Johnson will have dinner with Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, in Brussels tonight in what is seen as a make-or-break moment for the UK-EU trade talks. If they conclude that compromise will not be possible, then they could emerge with the news that both side have to prepare for no deal.
But if, as they hope, the dinner isn’t a failure, the opposite does not seem to be the case; we shouldn’t be expecting an announcement that a deal has been clinched. In an interview this morning Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, suggested the best he was hoping for was “further political momentum”. He told Times Radio:
I’m hopeful that the prime minister will be able to lay out, over the course of dinner, where movement is required. The conversation between the prime minister and the president tonight, I hope, will create further political momentum, which will make sure that we do reach an agreement.
His language is very similar to this statement on the prospects for the Johnson/Von der Leyen dinner released to the media last night from a UK government source.
It’s clear that some political impetus will be required for the talks to make any more progress. If we can make progress at a political level it may allow Lord Frost and his team to resume negotiations over the coming days. But we must be realistic that an agreement may not be possible as we will not compromise on reclaiming UK sovereignty.
In Brussels too officials have been stressing that tonight’s meeting will not result in a deal. The European commission’s spokesperson said yesterday the two leaders would be trying to find a reason to “move forward hopefully with negotiations, which could hopefully continue after that”.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, give evidence to the joint science/health committee inquiry into lessons to be learnt from coronavirus.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is holding a coronavirus briefing.
12.15pm: The Welsh government is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.
12.30pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, makes a statement to MPs about the agreement with the EU on how to implement the Brexit withdrawal agreement and its Northern Ireland protocol.
Evening: Boris Johnson has dinner with Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, in Brussels.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we are covering non-Covid political stories here too, and for much of today I will be focusing on Brexit.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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