by Ian Wishart, Alberto Nardelli, Dara Doyle
European Union officials say it’s make-your-mind-up time for Boris Johnson. Does he want a trade deal with the bloc, or not?
Another week of negotiations — one that was supposed to be decisive — will end Friday with little progress made in the main areas of disagreement, according to three EU officials familiar with the situation. While both sides can see what a final agreement would look like, Brussels officials insist that reaching one will require the UK prime minister to move first, a stance their British counterparts reject.
The exit of one of Johnson’s top aide less than 50 days before the UK is due to leave the single market, and the planned departure of another, has injected fresh uncertainty into the process. EU officials have been left speculating whether the departure of two of the most senior figures from the Leave campaign increases or reduces the likelihood that the prime minister will walk away without a deal.
“I see what is happening now in Downing Street and see this as quite a chaotic situation,” Manfred Weber, leader of the largest group in the European Parliament and an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told BBC Radio on Friday. “We need a clear idea from Boris Johnson now, and I think it’s now time for leadership.”