Boris Johnson and European commission president Ursula von der Leyen have confirmed that they will meet in Brussels in an attempt to unblock the deadlocked post-Brexit trade deal negotiations.
For months, the main sticking points in the negotiations have been the following:
The EU wants to continue to maximise access to UK waters for its fishing fleets after 31 December.
The British argue the UK is now an independent coastal state and should be able to prioritise its own boats.
However, most fish caught by UK fishermen are sold in Europe and Britain needs to maintain access to EU markets.
There was talk on Sunday of a breakthrough on fishing, but that has been denied by Downing Street.
Reports suggest UK negotiators are proposing removing pelagic fish – the likes of mackerel and whiting – from the fisheries aspect of the negotiations in a bid to break the impasse on the turbulent issue.
Those fish types would instead be negotiated separately on a rolling annual basis with the EU and other countries, such as Russia, Norway and Iceland.
The level playing field
The so-called “level playing field” rules are intended to ensure businesses on one side do not gain an unfair advantage over those on the other side.
In return for continuing access to the single market, the EU is seeking a high degree of alignment by the UK with its standards on workers rights, the environment and particularly state aid for businesses.
The British deny they want to undercut EU measures, but say the point of leaving is for the UK to be able to set its own standards.
The two sides are still at odds over the mechanisms for enforcing any agreement and resolving disputes.
The British have been adamant that the UK is an independent sovereign state and cannot accept the jurisdiction of the European court of justice.
Where does this leave the negotiations?
The UK’s concession that it will remove elements of the controversial internal market bill relating to Northern Ireland in the event of a trade deal is being read in some quarters as a sign an agreement could be in the works.
Johnson’s jaunt to Brussels is similarly being viewed as a precursor to a breakthrough, but government sources on Monday continued to warn that no-deal remains an option.