29/08/2019 22:30 BST

Boris Johnson Urges EU To ‘Step Up Tempo’ Of Talks As No-Deal Brexit Looms

Prime minister says UK’s Brexit negotiators will sit down with Brussels counterparts twice a week.

The prime minister has said both the UK and EU need to “step up the tempo” as the government prepares to intensify talks with Brussels.

Downing Street has said the UK’s team of Brexit negotiators will sit down with their EU counterparts twice a week during September “with the possibility of additional technical meetings, to discuss a way forward on securing a new deal”.

Johnson’s chief Brexit sherpa David Frost met this week with the EU’s Article 50 Taskforce and agreed that talks would be intensified in the coming weeks.

The prime minister said from his first day in office he has been determined to get a deal done.

He added: “While I have been encouraged with my discussions with EU leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop, it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo.

“The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if we are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31, no ifs no buts.”

PA Media: UK News

Two meetings between the UK and EU negotiators are scheduled to take place next week.

Frost will be joined in Brussels by relevant officials including experts on customs, regulatory issues and trade policy.

Number 10 said the two sides remain “some distance apart on key issues but that both sides are willing to work hard to find a way through”.

Downing Street also confirmed talks between the UK and EU will continue throughout the period that parliament is prorogued ahead of a Queen’s Speech.

Earlier on Thursday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator made it clear he was not ready to retreat on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop, despite pressure from the Prime Minister.

Michel Barnier tweeted: “PM @BorisJohnson has said that the UK will leave the EU on 31 Oct. In all circumstances, the EU will continue to protect the interests of its citizens and companies, as well as the conditions for peace and stability on the island of Ireland. It is our duty & our responsibility.”