More than four years after helping set Britain’s course out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is headed to EU headquarters to try to finish the job.
With less than a month until the U.K.’s economic rupture with the European Union and talks on a new trade deal at a standstill on three crucial issues, Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed Monday to meet in person “in the coming days” to see whether they can find common ground.
Brussels is dangerous territory for Brexit-backing British leaders. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, came time and again to negotiate a Brexit deal, only to see it repeatedly rejected by her own Parliament, ending her top-level career.
Johnson will be hoping for a quick in-and-out that leaves his reputation intact and his country on course for a free trade deal with its biggest economic partner.
The UK economy is particularly dependent on its services sector and has leaned on the EU for trade to a large extent. One of the issues both sides can’t seem to agree on is the level of access for EU boats to seas within the UK’s exclusive economic zone.
Chatter over a breakthrough deal on fishing rights still hangs in the balance, however, as chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and other officials have denied any agreement.