Boris Johnson will demand that the increasingly isolated French president, Emmanuel Macron, caves in to UK demands on fishing as the price for a trade and security deal at a key meeting with the European commission president on Saturday.
The prime minister will speak to Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday afternoon in a video-conference call to “take stock of negotiations and discuss next steps”.
Johnson said he was “pretty optimistic” a Brexit deal could be reached. The prime minister told the Daily Telegraph the prospects of securing a deal by the end of the year to avoid an abrupt separation “are very good if everybody just exercises some common sense and looks at the deal that is there to be done”.
Johnson will feel strengthened by comments from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday, when she described the fisheries deal struck by Britain with Norway this week as a “constructive indicator”.
British officials argue that Norway, a non-EU member state, which conducts annual negotiations with the bloc on fishing quotas, should be the model for a post-Brexit deal on shared stocks.
“I don’t think that’s a bad message at all for us, I think it is rather one that shows that one can find ways to come to an agreement,” Merkel said of the agreement between London and Oslo.
Von der Leyen said on Friday that the most contentious issues, including fisheries and the control of domestic subsidies, remained “completely open”. The EU now expects a deal to materialise only in late October or early November.
In a statement, the UK’s chief negotiator,