Chief Brexit negotiators to dine on fish as they discuss trade deal at Downing Street

PUBLISHED: 15:43 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:51 07 July 2020

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (R) and the British Prime Minister's Europe adviser David Frost pose for a photograph in March (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images).

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (R) and the British Prime Minister's Europe adviser David Frost pose for a photograph in March (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images).

Archant

The EU’s lead Brexit negotiator and his British counterpart will dine on fish during a private dinner in Downing Street.

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Michel Barnier and David Frost will kick off the latest round of trade-deal talks over a three course meal consisting of chargrilled asparagus, a fillet of halibut and a terrine of summer fruits.

The pair meet as Brussels officials prepare to cede ground on fishing rights in order to keep negotations moving.

Barnier said the EU is “doing everything to succeed” in reaching an agreement “but not at any price”.

He posted a message on Twitter showing himself and aides wearing face masks on the train to London.

“We are engaging constructively and I look forward to equivalent engagement from the UK this week,” he said.

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A Downing Street spokesman said that while the talks are “informal”, discussions are likely to “cover everything from what the EU calls the level playing field through to governance structures”.

No ministers will be present at the dinner but “one or two” officials from each side may attend. Social distancing rules would be observed.

The two negotiators will be joined by their teams for further talks on Wednesday.

Last week, discussions between the two sides on a post-Brexit trade deal broke up early with “significant differences” remaining.

It had been hoped that the face-to-face meetings - agreed following a high-level conference call last month between Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen - would inject new momentum into the process.

The prime minister has been adamant that he will not allow the discussions to drag on into the autumn, arguing that British businesses and citizens need certainty on the way forward before then.

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