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Brexit talks continue but Sunday is the deadline for a trade deal

Ursula von der Leyen, Boris Johnson & their chief negotiators met for three hours last night

Sunday is now the deadline for EU and UK negotiators working on a trade deal needed in time for the new year.

They’ve been told to continue their work after the meeting of the Commission President and British Prime Minister in Brussels last night.

Masks came off to reveal cheerful faces on the way to dinner but when Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson emerged with their chief negotiators three hours later, the mood was bleak.

The Commission President said their meeting had been “lively and interesting”, but said the sides “remain far apart”.

Number 10 Downing Street said the PM “does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested”, but called it “a frank discussion”.

They’ve agreed the talks will continue but the teams are only getting four more days.

Fine Gael’s Brexit spokesman Neale Richmond says we’re now closer to a no-deal scenario now than we’ve ever been.

There are now just thirteen business days left until the end of the transition period on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, new records for freight crossing the Irish Sea have been set every week for the last three weeks as Irish firms brace for disruption in the new year.

That’s according to Stena Line, which carried 19% more cargo last week than the same period in 2019.

The ferry operator says importers dealing in non-perishable goods have doubled their orders in many cases.

Stena Line spokesman Simon Palmer says they expect traffic to fall more than normal in January though.