İrem UZUN -TDO- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Tuesday that securing a Brexit deal is "looking very, very difficult" as he prepares to go to Brussels later this week to meet with Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. "You've got to be optimistic, you've got to believe that the power of sweet reason to get this thing over the line. But I've got to tell you, it's looking very, very difficult at the moment,” Johnson told reporters.

Johnson is set to hold face-to-face talks with von der Leyen after negotiations left both sides’ attempts to salvage a trade deal looking increasingly unlikely. The two leaders agreed to meet in Brussels after a lengthy telephone call last night, their second in 48 hours, to assess the faltering negotiations. Wednesday is thought to be the most likely day for their meeting, coming before a crucial EU summit on Thursday, when the leaders of the 27 member states will vote on a deal if it is agreed. Talks have faltered on the issues of fishing rights, the level playing field measures aimed at preventing the UK undercutting the EU on standards and state subsidies, and the way that any deal would be governed.

Johnson urged European leaders on Tuesday to "understand that the UK has left the EU in order to be able exercise democratic control over the way we do things". And he vowed Britain would "prosper mightily" whatever the outcome of trade negotiations. Without a post-Brexit trade deal being agreed by the end of this month, the EU and UK are likely to have to trade on World Trade Organization rules with tariffs imposed in both directions. The prime minister has often referred to this scenario as Australian terms of trade with the bloc, as Australia does not have a comprehensive trade deal in place with the EU.

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