No 10 expected to continue Brexit talks past October

The summit was meant to provide the very last occasion for concluding a free trade deal between Britain and the EU but no such deal appears to be in the offing

"I can't say as we stand here that we'll necessarily get a deal - we have prospects of a deal", European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters after meeting with European Union leaders, adding that as far as he's concerned talks will continue in London next week and Brussels the week after.

European Union leaders reiterated calls for Britain to make further concessions in order to reach a deal on their future relationship, increasing pressure on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he thinks about whether to walk away.

Speaking as he arrived for the discussions, Taoiseach Michael Martin acknowledged there were still key stumbling blocks that need to be addressed, with the need for a fair fisheries deal high on the agenda. Prior to the summit, Frost was expected to advise Johnson not to abandon talks, the person said.

The EU had prepared time during this summit for a discussion among the EU's 27 leaders about a trade deal - but a draft deal hasn't been created yet, with wide gaps remaining between the two sides on State aid and fisheries.

"We are united and we will make an assessment in the next days, we will see if it is possible to complete a negotiation, what will be the country's (the UK's) proposal and based on that we will make an assessment".

The gathering of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday was interrupted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen having to pull out of the summit after a member of her staff tested positive for coronavirus. Britain's junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi said London also could not wait much longer as it needed to tell businesses to prepare if talks fail.

The invite comes after a warning by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he could walk away from the negotiations unless the results of the summit pointed to a breakthrough. That said, while the EU's self-imposed deadline is for the end of the month, as has been highlighted this week, soft-deadlines are rarely met and thus negotiations can spill into November.

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"We are clear that we are determined to negotiate, we are determined to reach an agreement but we know there are some hard topics", he said.

Rumours from inside the EU European diplomats said Brussels was ready for a deal, but not at any price, and would be looking for a sign from Johnson that he was serious about compromise.

"We need to lower the landing gear".

Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said that the trade deal had to be "balanced" with no winners or losers in the negotiations.

Mr Barnier also held out the prospect of a two-week extension to Mr Johnson's 15 October deadline, by adding that his team would travel for London for talks next week and would host negotiations in Brussels the week after.

During the call, the prime minister "noted the desirability of a deal" but "expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks", a Downing Street spokesperson said. He said it was time to "stop talking about words like continue or intensify" and start the final rounds of negotiation.

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