- Brexit trade talks will be extended following a call between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
- Both sides had insisted that the deadline for a breakthrough in talks was Sunday, with Johnson insisting a no-deal Brexit was “very likely.”
- The extension comes as UK shops have been told to stockpile food and other essential items ahead of a possible no-deal outcome.
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Brexit trade deal talks will continue into next week following a call between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday.
Ursula von der Leyen said talks with Johnson had been “constructive and useful” and so talks could continue.
“Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile,” she said in a statement to reporters in Brussels.
In a joint statement, both leaders added that “our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached.”
—BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 13, 2020
Britain is still due to leave the European Single Market without a replacement trade deal in place on December 31 unless there is a further breakthrough in talks.
Both sides had previously insisted that Sunday was the deadline for that breakthrough. On Friday, Johnson said it was “very, very likely” that Britain would fail to strike a trade deal before January.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also insisted to the BBC on Sunday that there was a “very high bar” for talks to be extended.
However, negotiations will now continue on Monday following intensive negotiations this weekend.
The announcement that talks will continue comes as Johnson’s government urges shops to begin stockpiling.
The UK could experience shortages of vegetables and other goods it sources heavily from Europe for months to come, the Sunday Times reported, with prices for consumers likely to soar due to newly-imposed EU tariffs.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted that reports of shortages in supermarkets would not come to pass, however.
“We’re not going to see shelves running bare or any of the scaremongering stories we’ve heard,” Raab told Times Radio.
British ports and freight companies are already reporting long delays and tailbacks on either side of the English Channel due to companies stockpiling supplies ahead of Britain’s exit from the Brexit transition period.
UK shops are already experiencing shortages and delays due to congestion at ports caused by Brexit stockpiling.
Representatives from the UK toy industry told Business Insider this week that many popular children’s toys will be unavailable to consumers this Christmas because of the delays.
The British Retail Consortium’s Andrew Opie told Insider that at some ports, “we have seen a huge surge in demand for space which has created delays and hundreds of thousands of pounds in congestion charges for unloading goods.”
“Retailers now face higher costs than ever before, with some seeing 25% week-on-week rises for shipping.
“While these rates continue to rise, and the disruption at ports and in shipping continues, retailers face significant challenges with the import of some items ahead of Christmas.”
Any disruption is due to hit the UK economy hard after a year of economic pain triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson’s government is preparing to spend billions on propping up UK industries in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Farming, fishing, and car manufacturers are expected to be especially badly hit by Britain’s sudden exit from the European single market.