Newspaper headlines: ‘Deadlock at dinner’ as Brexit trade talks ‘go badly’

By BBC News



image captionBrexit makes the front pages of many of Thursday’s newspapers, after Boris Johnson went to Brussels for trade deal talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The Daily Telegraph says the talks went badly, but the two sides now have until Sunday to reach a deal. The PM was “downbeat about the chances of an agreement” following his three-hour dinner with Ms von der Leyen, the paper says – but the pair had a “frank discussion about the significant obstacles that remain”.
image captionFish was definitely on the menu at Mr Johnson and Ms Ursula von der Leyen’s working dinner, the Metro jokes, referring to both the row over fishing and also the turbot that the politicians ate as the main course. The pair initially spoke for half an hour before being joined by the chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier.
image captionThe Daily Mail calls the night of talks “dramatic” – but that the dinner failed to break the deadlock over the trade deal. It described the statement from the UK government source that was issued after the talks – which said large gaps remained between the two sides – as “gloomy”. By Sunday, the UK could be heading out of the EU without a trade deal, the paper says.
image captionThe i newspaper also reports on the deadline to agree a Brexit deal being extended to Sunday, and says officials Lord Frost and Mr Barnier will meet again later on Thursday to resume talks. Fishing and regulatory standards remain the main obstacles in reaching a deal, the paper adds.
image captionMr Johnson made clear at the talks that a trade deal between the UK and EU was still possible, the Guardian reports, and he also set out his red lines for the final days of negotiations. But Europe is preparing for the worst, the paper says, quoting EU sources as saying that they plan to publish their no-deal contingency plans “very soon indeed”.
image captionThe Daily Express’s front page also reports on the message that Mr Johnson gave to the EU last night, reporting that he “was standing firm” over sovereignty and fishing rights. The paper says the EU was attempting to “punish” Britain for leaving the bloc.
image captionThe Times says Mr Johnson last night told the EU that no prime minister could accept their demands. The paper says the pair discussed post-Brexit fishing rights over dinner, and suggests it came “amid signs that the government was preparing to give ground”. Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has hinted that his party would back a trade deal, the paper adds.
image captionSupermarket giant Tesco is stockpiling food in warehouses for the new year, the Daily Mirror reports, amid fears a post-Brexit trade deal will not be reached. Tesco’s chairman John Allan warned there could be empty shelves and soaring prices if there is no deal, the paper reports. “We’re stockpiling as much as we can,” he said.
image captionCoronavirus lockdown restrictions make the front page of the Sun, which reports that pub landlords are asking the PM for help. The paper says just one fifth of pubs could be open this Christmas because of “crippling” Covid tier rules that force some pubs to shut. It estimates that nearly 10,000 pubs will shut for good, meaning a loss of up to 290,000 jobs. Landlords have called the new tier rules “lockdown by the back door”, the paper adds.
image captionThe Daily Star reports on the story involving Sky News presenter Kay Burley and three of her colleagues, who have been taken off air while an investigation is carried out into whether they breached Covid rules. The Star’s front page focuses on another Sky TV presenter who, the paper claims, retweeted a tweet that criticised his colleagues.

Boris Johnson’s make-or-break meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen dominates the morning papers.

Most of the front pages carry a photo of the two leaders standing two metres apart as they pose for the cameras before dinner.

For the Daily Telegraph, last night’s talks in Brussels “went badly”, with the prime minister “downbeat” about the likelihood of an agreement. Sources close to the talks tell the paper that Mr Johnson has “not lost hope” but the chances may be “diminishing”.

With no breakthrough, the paper says Brexit negotiators now have just four days to avoid a no-deal.

“Deadlock at dinner” is the headline in the Daily Mail. After a “dramatic night”, the paper says Sunday is now the “final” deadline for reaching a trade deal.

Describing Downing Street’s statement on the outcome of the meeting as “gloomy”, the paper says the two sides will have to make a firm choice on the future of the talks.

For the i newspaper, it was “fudge for supper”, after the two leaders agreed to push back a decision until the weekend.

The stage is now set for a “dramatic final act” of the negotiations, the Guardian says. The paper highlights Downing Street’s description of the talks as “frank” – a diplomatic expression, it explains, for a heated discussion between leaders.

The Guardian adds that any deal must be sealed by Sunday, with pressure building on both sides to find time for parliament to ratify an agreement before the end of the year.

image copyrightEtienne Ansotte/European Commission/PA Media

image captionMr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen spoke during a three-hour working dinner on Wednesday evening

Ultimately, according to the Independent online, Mr Johnson left Brussels “empty-handed” – after failing to win any concessions from an EU still happy to play hardball.

But for the Times, the prime minister was “refusing to back down”. The Daily Express agrees he was standing firm – while the EU tries to punish Britain for leaving. Its headline reads: “Take it or leave it”.

With fishing quotas one of the key obstacles to a deal, last night’s dinner menu of scallops and turbot provokes plenty of comment in the papers.

For the Express, “EU chefs” were “mocking Boris” by dishing up a double helping of seafood. The paper notes that EU officials declined to reveal exactly where the ingredients were sourced.

In its editorial, the Express says the menu will have reminded the two leaders exactly “what is at stake”. “Fish-ticuffs” is the headline in the Sun.

Food stockpiling

The Daily Mirror leads on the news that Tesco has begun stockpiling food amid fears the Brexit trade negotiations will collapse without a deal.

Warehouses are being loaded up to prepare for potential shortages in the New Year. The paper says the supermarket’s chairman, John Allan, is warning of “empty shelves and soaring prices” if the UK defaults to World Trade Organization terms.

And according to the Financial Times, British holidaymakers will be banned from visiting countries within the EU from 1 January – when coronavirus safety rules which allow free travel within the bloc stop applying to the UK.

The end of the Brexit transition period means the UK will come under a system which only allows non-essential travel from a handful of countries with the lowest rates of infection.

The European Commission has said there are no plans to add the UK to the “safe” list, which currently includes Australia and Singapore.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionNon-essential visits to the EU by UK citizens will be restricted, according to the Financial Times

Under the headline, “Gloom at the Inn”, the Sun uses its front page to highlight the ongoing plight of the UK’s pubs.

It reports that just one in five could be open this Christmas, because of “crippling” coronavirus restrictions.

According to the paper, the impact of the latest lockdown – and ongoing uncertainty in the run-up to the festive season – might mean as many as 10,000 pubs are forced to shut for good.

Both the Times and the Telegraph report that academics at Cambridge University have scored a victory in a row over free speech.

Earlier this year, officials at the university tried to introduce new rules which would require all students, lecturers and visitors to “respect” opposing views.

Dons feared the plan would stifle debate, and make it difficult to criticise a viewpoint without fear of disciplinary action.

Following a campaign, academics have won a ballot on an amended version of the rules, which make it almost impossible to “no platform” a speaker by cancelling their invitation.

And a number of papers take a look at a the results of a survey by the Office for National Statistics on the changing habits of British households before, during and after the first national lockdown.

The Times notes that in late March and April we slept more, moved less, watched too much TV and drank 20% more alcohol than usual.

The Guardian points out that childcare and housework were shared more evenly during those first months – but any change appears to have been temporary.

Data for September and October shows women were doing an hour more unpaid work around the house every day compared to men.

Lohit Soundarajan

Founder , Editor Tech Guy #Voxguy

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