The rules allow non-essential travel into the EU from just a handful of third-party countries where infection rates are very low, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Despite the UK having lower infection rates than 18 of the 27 EU member states, officials say there are currently no plans to add Britain to the ‘safe’ list.
And Britain would not automatically be exempt even if Boris Johnson were to strike an 11th hour deal with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels this week.
Mr Johnson met with Ms Von der Leyen on Wednesday night for talks in an attempt to reach an agreement, though No10 later admitted that ‘very large’ gaps remain between the two sides.
Travel restrictions are not thought to be one of the sticking points, after the EU previously agreed that UK nationals can travel visa-free on the continent for 90 days in every 180-day period.
But coronavirus travel bans are not thought to have formed part of the discussions, despite the differences in how EU and non-EU countries are treated.
British tourists could be banned from travelling to the EU from January 1 under strict coronavirus rules, despite the UK having an infection rate that is below many EU member states (pictured above, Covid infection rate per million people based on a seven day average)
The UK also has a lower death rate from the virus than many other major European countries and tourist destinations, including the likes of Italy, France and Portugal
To qualify for the list, countries must have an infection rate that is equal to or below the EU average on June 15 when cases were very low. Currently, the list includes the likes of Australia and New Zealand, which have rates far below that UK (above)
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied the restrictions were a direct result of Brexit, and said all countries will have to keep travel restrictions under review to deal with the virus.
‘In terms of linking it to Brexit… I don’t think that’s right. The arrangements, whether we’ve got a free trade deal or otherwise, are that Brits can go over there for 90 days in any 180-day period,’ he said.
Non-EU ‘safe’ countries
Just eight countries from outside the EU have been deemed ‘safe’ enough for tourists to be allowed in.
To be on the ‘safe’ list, countries must have infection rates below the EU average on June 15, and infections must be stable or falling.
The current list includes:
– Australia (0.03 cases per 100,000)
– Japan (1.8 cases)
– New Zealand (0.05 cases)
– Rwanda (0.3 cases)
– Singapore (0.15 cases)
– South Korea (1.2 cases)
– Thailand (0.02 cases)
– Uruguay (7.7 cases)
– China (subject to reciprocity, 0.008 cases)
By comparison, the UK has an infection rate of 22.4 per 100,000 people, according to European CDC data.
‘But Covid in the rest of Europe and in the UK remains a live issue and we need to make sure we’ve got control of it and I’m afraid restrictions on travel is something that’s quite likely to be kept under review.’
The only way Britons would be allowed to travel is if the European Council agrees to relax the rules before January 1, when Brexit takes effect, or if individual member states decided to override the rules.
To qualify for the exempt list, countries must have a lower infection rate than the European average on June 15, when infection rates were at rock bottom.
Case totals must also be stable or falling, and other government responses to the pandemic including mask mandates and social distancing rules can also be taken into account.
Currently, the list of exempt non-EU countries includes just nine nations where infection rates are much lower than in the UK.
Aside from Australia and New Zealand, the current list includes: South Korea, Japan, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay and China.
Of those, Uruguay currently has the highest infection rate of 7.7 cases per 100,000 people, based on a seven-day rolling average.
By comparison, the UK has an infection rate of 22.4 per 100,000 people.
Only two EU countries, Hungary and Croatia, have decided not to apply the travel ban list, the Financial Times reports.
Norway, which is not an EU member state but is part of the extended Schengen border-free zone, has also not applied the list.
But officials in Oslo have already confirmed that Britons who do not live in the country will be banned from entry from January 1, when Brexit takes effect.
A UK government spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on decisions that could be taken by other states on public health matters.’
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab this morning denied that the restrictions were due to Brexit, and said travel curbs will have to be kept under constant review as the coronavirus pandemic moves forward
Boris Johnson is in Brussels trying to secure and 11th hour Brexit deal for the UK, though after a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (right) on Wednesday, was forced to admit that ‘significant gaps’ remain
Boris Johnson is pictured today, as negotiators try to secure a Brexit deal in Brussels. But travellers could still be caught up in the EU’s coronavirus restrictions, even if a deal is granted
Coronavirus infection rates fell drastically over the summer, before soaring as winter approached, when respiratory illnesses tend to spread faster.
Britons could be barred from EU travel over passport expiry dates
Millions of Britons could be barred from entry to the EU in the New Year unless they renew passports.
Visas will not be needed for short tourist trips whether or not there is a Brexit trade deal, but fears have been raised that large numbers of people could still be caught out when the transition period ends on January 1.
UK passports are currently valid in the EU and other countries in the Schengen free movement zone right up until their expiry date.
However, from January they must have at least six months left to run.
This means that those whose passports expire in the summer of 2021 will be unable to travel in the spring.
People whose passports do not expire until the end of 2021 or even the start of 2022 might also be at risk of falling foul of the rules.
That is because UK passports can last up to 10 years and nine months rather than the standard 10 years – in recognition that renewal can happen when there is still time left on an old document.
The EU is set to ignore the extra nine months as well as the final six when it decides if a passport is valid.
Lockdown measures put in place in most major European countries have caused those rates to drop rapidly, though not as far or as fast as during the first round of lockdowns during the spring.
Germany – widely praised for having one of the best initial virus responses – now has an infection rate on par with the UK after avoiding a full second lockdown.
The country logged another 23,679 cases on Monday, a record one-day total for the second wave of the pandemic, bringing its overall total to 1,242,203.
Another 440 deaths were registered, bringing the overall total to 20,372.
Angela Merkel has now called for tougher measures to be taken in the run-up to Christmas, when Germany planned to relax its restrictions.
Merkel called for non-essential shops to be closed and social gatherings to be limited further.
The Chancellor added that schools should extend holidays until January 10 or offer online lessons until then.
Speaking about the Christmas break that Germans had been promised, she added that people cannot pick and choose when to listen to the science.
‘The numbers are what they are, so we must do something about them,’ she said.
Meanwhile in France, which had one of the highest infection rates in Europe before the winter lockdown, cases have now fallen under the level seen in the UK.
Non-essential shops were allowed to reopen in November, which has caused cases to begin rising again.
A second round of easing was planned for December 15, but may not go ahead if cases remain at their current level.
Measures to be dropped on December 15 included forcing people to fill out forms to leave their homes.
Four days to break Brexit deadlock: PM and Ursula von der Leyen extend ‘final deadline’ to Sunday after ‘lively and interesting’ three-hour seafood dinner – but No10 warns ‘very large’ gaps remain
Britain is teetering on the brink of no deal Brexit today after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen set a final deadline of Sunday for a breakthrough and warned that ‘very large’ gaps remain.
The PM and the EU chief took stock of the dire situation for more than three hours as they ate steamed turbot and scallops – the source of many skirmishes between UK and French fishing boats – at the commission’s HQ in Brussels last night.
But the pair failed to find a way through the impasse that has left trade talks on the verge of collapse, a year after Britain formally left the bloc.
Instead they are ordering Michel Barnier and Lord Frost to re-engage, on the understanding that unless a resolution has emerged within four days the plug will be pulled. However, it is not clear if they have been given any new political instructions – thought to be critical to shift the deadlock.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels
A statement from Ms von der Leyen echoed the gloomy tone from No10 after the marathon dinner
Government sources confirmed that Lord Frost and Mr Barnier will resume talks in the Belgian capital today in a bid to resolve the outstanding issues.
As concerns about the consequences of no deal escalated, the EU commission is expected to publish contingency plans today designed to keep trucks running and planes in the sky.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab lashed out at ‘scare stories’ about food shortages during a round of interviews this morning.
He played down warnings that the public is already stockpiling essential goods.
In a grim assessment last night, a No10 source said Mr Johnson did not want to leave ‘any route to a possible deal untested’. ‘The PM and Ursula von der Leyen had a frank discussion about the significant obstacles which remain in the negotiations,’ the source said.
‘Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged. The PM and Ms von der Leyen agreed to further discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams.
‘The PM does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested. The PM and Ms von der Leyen agreed that by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks.’
Ms von der Leyen said in a statement: ‘We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play on outstanding issues. We understand each other’s positions.
‘They remain far apart. The teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.’
Mr Barnier and Lord Frost have wrangled unsuccessfully for months over access to UK waters, level playing field rules and how to enforce the terms, and finally admitted earlier this week that they could not make any more progress.
Mr Johnson landed in RAF Northolt near London from Brussels shortly after midnight. He had set the tone for the showdown yesterday by telling MPs no prime minister could accept the demands the EU is making, which include obeying rules it makes in the future, as well as those currently in place.
In a bullishly optimistic performance at PMQs, Mr Johnson said the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ with or without an agreement – even thought the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has suggested the collapse of talks would knock two percent off GDP next year.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned that the long-term damage from falling back on World Trade Organisation terms would be worse than the economic hit from coronavirus.
Tory MPs urged Mr Johnson to stick to his guns, insisting his pledge to ‘take back control’ and put sovereignty first must not be sacrificed to get a deal. But Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM of bungling the negotiations, swiping: ‘Secure the deal, Prime Minister. You promised it.’
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick waded into the crisis last night, telling ITV’s Peston that while there had been ‘good discussion’ between the PM and Ms von der Leyen, there are still ‘very significant areas of disagreement’ and that had been ‘no clear movement in the right direction’.
The Housing Secretary said: ‘It sounds as if, from the conversations I’ve had with the Prime Minister’s team tonight, that there are still very significant areas of disagreement.
‘So I don’t want to give false hope, but he did conclude with Ursula von der Leyen that we should get the teams back together in the coming days and they will work hard to see if there is a way forward until Sunday.’
Asked if the UK was closer to a deal, he said: ‘I think there was a good discussion, but there was no clear movement in the right direction.’
Responding to the development, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: ‘One year after Boris Johnson promised us an oven-ready deal he has completely failed. The failure to deliver the deal he promised is his and his alone.’
Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said: ‘The Prime Minister promised an oven-ready deal. He needs to get it done so we can focus on what matters to the British people: securing our economy, protecting our NHS and rebuilding our country.’
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called a no deal Brexit ‘a massive failure of diplomacy and leadership which @BorisJohnson has to take ownership of’.
He tweeted:‘On top of the health & economic impact of covid this is self induced self harm. Disruption to trade, tariffs, higher prices and lost jobs is never a price worth paying.’
Downing Street had been trying to play down expectations for this evening’s showdown, insisting it is not a negotiation and suggesting the best outcome would be ‘political impetus’ that could allow the two negotiating teams to engage again.
As Mr Johnson arrived at the Berlaymont building earlier, he was given a reminder by Ms von der Leyen of the need for social distancing – with Brussels in the midst of a tough coronavirus lockdown.
As the two leaders posed for the cameras, the Prime Minister asked if they were taking their masks off. The commission president agreed, but told Mr Johnson to ‘keep distance’ as they briefly removed their face coverings. Ms von der Leyen added: ‘Then we have to put it back on. You have to put it back on immediately.’
The Prime Minister responded, saying: ‘You run a tight ship here, Ursula, and quite right too.’ The pair then headed off for a one-on-one meeting, before dinner.
Around the table with the PM and Ms von der Leyen were the chief negotiators Mr Barnier and Lord Frost, as well as a few other key officials.
The menu for such meals is always closely watched for hints of the mood and subtle jokes by the host.
And this occasion was no exception, with two seafood courses in an apparent nod to the bitter dispute over fishing rights for UK waters.
The starter was pumpkin soup and scallops; while the main was steamed turbot and mashed potatoes with wasabi and vegetables.
Desert was Pavolova with exotic fruit and coconut sorbet.
In the Commons yesterday, Mr Johnson insisted a ‘good deal is still there to be done’ despite the increasingly bitter standoff.
But he made clear that there will need to be movement on the EU’s side if there is to be a trade accord agreed and rolled out before of the end of the ‘standstill’ transition period on December 31.
‘Our friends in the EU are currently insisting that if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply or don’t follow suit, then they want the automatic right to punish us and to retaliate,’ Mr Johnson told MPs.
‘Secondly, they are saying that the UK should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters. I don’t believe that those are terms that any prime minister of this country should accept.’
Earlier, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove cautioned that Mr Johnson could pull the plug on negotiations unless the EU shifts on the sticking points of fishing rights, ‘level-playing field’ rules and enforcement of the deal.
He suggested the ‘glide path’ had been made easier by a settlement of another major row over the implementation of the original Brexit divorce terms.
But he insisted the UK will never bow to pressure over future rules and regulations – proposals that dramatically resurfaced last week after a fresh offensive from Michel Barnier and French president Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Gove said the premier would spell out the ‘political realities’ with Ms von der Leyen later.
As pressure grew yesterday, Mr Barnier – who increasingly looks to be a major roadblock to an agreement – warned the chances of a deal are ‘very slim’.
Mr Johnson yesterday offered a significant olive branch by agreeing to scrap controversial legislation that broke part of the original Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland.
The EU had said it would not sign an agreement if the legislation remained.
In another major concession the EU will be allowed to have officials stationed in Northern Ireland, a sticking point on which Britain had previously stood firm.
The DUP called it ‘unnecessary’ and ‘concerning’, while Brexiteers made clear they will be watching closely to see if Mr Johnson cedes further ground to Ms von der Leyen.
But government sources said big gaps remained between the two sides on key issues – and warned that the PM could pull the plug on negotiations if no progress was made.
Boris Johnson walks from an airplane after arriving from Brussels at RAF Northolt near London
One source said the two sides were too far apart for a deal to be struck last night. But Mr Johnson hopes the two leaders can identify a breakthrough which their negotiators can finalise in the following days.
‘The aim is to unlock things so they can give their teams the authority to keep going and finalise the issues,’ the source said.
‘But if they strike out and make no progress then that is going to be it – there is no point carrying on for the sake of it.’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she did not believe it would be clear yesterday whether a deal will be done.
‘I don’t think we will know by tomorrow if this will happen or not, at least I can’t promise this but we are still working on it,’ she told the Bundestag.
‘But we are also prepared for conditions we cannot accept. So if there are conditions coming from the British side which we cannot accept, then we will go on our own way without an exit agreement. Because one thing is certain: the integrity of the single market has to be maintained.’
Mrs Merkel said the ‘big, difficult question’ was over the rules on obeying future regulations, with the EU fearing the UK will gain a competitive advantage by refusing to follow its standards.
‘There are a number of complicated questions, which mostly are down to how to deal with the dynamic,’ she said.
‘We currently more or less have the same legal system, a harmonised legal system, but over the years the legal systems will diverge regarding environment law, labour law, health legislation, everywhere.
‘And how will the respective other side react to this, when the legal situation either in the European union or in Great Britain will change? And we can’t just say we won’t talk about this, but we not only need a level playing field for today but also for days to come.
‘For this we need to find agreements about how each side can react when the other changes their legal situation. Otherwise there will be unfair competition conditions, which we can’t do to our companies.’
In a round of interviews yesterday, Mr Gove refused to give a percentage chance for a deal.
‘I’m hopeful that the Prime Minister will be able to lay out, over the course of dinner, where movement is required,’ he told Sky news.
‘The conversation between the Prime Minister and the president tonight, I hope, will create further political momentum, which will make sure that we do reach an agreement.’
Mr Gove insisted the UK ‘holds the cards’ in the talks, with fishing rights and as a major purchaser of EU goods. That was why the bloc had been trying to ‘claw back advantage’ over the past week, he argued.
‘I think that the political realities that he will share with Ursula von der Leyen tonight give us the best chance of reaching a deal,’ Mr Gove added.
He confirmed that ‘level-playing field’ rules are now the main issue that needs to be overcome.
‘The issue of particular contention is that last week the EU negotiators didn’t simply want an arrangement whereby we pledge what we call non-regression – which is common in most trade treaties, which means you maintain the standards at the point of entry – they actually wanted an arrangement that meant if the EU adopted new laws, that the UK would have to (follow them) or the EU would retaliate,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘We can accept the non-regression principles, which are common to free trade agreements, which indeed Canada entered into and that’s the point we’ve always made – we want an arrangement similar to the one Canada has with the European Union.’
Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost are both due to attend this evening’s dinner between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen.
Many in Westminster are unsure whether the PM’s trip to Brussels should be seen as a good sign or as a bad sign for the chances of a deal being done.
One Cabinet minister said: ‘None of us really know what is going on. Is he going because he thinks there is a chance that he can return victorious with a piece of paper?
‘Or does he already know it’s probably No Deal and just wants to be seen to be doing everything he can?
‘Either way, it is entirely his call. Everyone wants a deal, but no-one is pushing him to take it at any price. It is down to his judgment.’
The crunch talks between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen will take place just hours before European leaders will meet for an EU Council summit in Brussels today.
Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, said the summit would not formally discuss the negotiations with the UK but Ms von der Leyen is expected to brief leaders on the state of play.
There had been fears Mr Macron could use the summit to grandstand on his opposition to a compromise, effectively wrecking hopes of a deal.
Downing Street blamed Mr Macron for torpedoing talks last week by pressuring Mr Barnier into toughening his stance just as progress was being made.
Two EU diplomats told the Mail that the chances of a Brexit deal were ‘now out of Barnier’s hands’.
Mr Johnson said the situation was ‘very tricky’ but he hoped the ‘power of sweet reason’ could still clinch an agreement in the final days before the Brexit transition ends later this month.
He acknowledged there may be a point where it is ‘time to draw stumps’ and accept that a deal is impossible.
Talks have stalled on the vexed issues of fishing access and the UK’s right to set its own destiny without having to follow EU rules after Brexit.
The EU is prepared to accept only modest cuts to its fishing quotas and wants them phased in over ten years.
Brussels is also demanding that the UK compete on a so-called ‘level-playing field’ in future.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said the outstanding issues in the negotiations with the European Union were about sovereignty and not trade.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think at the moment the problem that the Prime Minister faces is that this is not any longer about a trade deal – a trade deal is sitting in the wings.
‘What this is all about is sovereignty, the question of how far can the EU insist that their courts and their rules and their regulations apply to the UK as we go forward, leaving the UK trapped in the orbit of the EU without any say, and that’s simply unacceptable to the Prime Minister.’
Mr Johnson is willing to guarantee the UK will not lower existing standards in areas such as state aid subsidies, workers’ rights and the environment, but Brussels also now wants the UK to adopt future EU regulations, and is demanding the power to levy ‘lightning tariffs’ if we diverge – an idea No 10 says is unacceptable.
Mr Johnson said yesterday: ‘Our friends have just got to understand the UK has left the EU in order to be able to exercise democratic control over the way we do things.
‘There is also the issue of fisheries where we are a long way apart still. But hope springs eternal, I will do my best to sort it out if we can.’
Mr Barnier told MEPs this week that yesterday was the final deadline for a deal, as it had to be signed off by leaders at today’s EU summit.
But the EU yesterday played down his comments, and suggested that talks could carry on until the end of this month – and possibly even into next year.
Downing Street said the UK was willing to continue talks for ‘as long as we have time available’ – but ruled out any extension into next year.
Tory Eurosceptics urged Mr Johnson not to back down on the UK’s red lines.
In a message to the PM on Twitter, former party treasurer Lord Ashcroft said: ‘At dinner in Brussels, grip your marbles tight, pour lead in your pencil, don’t go wobbly and don’t cross your stated red lines… good fortune.’
Former Brexit minister David Jones said a deal was now only possible if the EU gave ground.
He said: ‘We will never again allow our trade and regulatory policy to be dictated by other countries. A free trade agreement is one thing; subservience is another.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: TIMELINE OF THE BREXIT SAGA
Boris Johnson and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have agreed that a ‘firm decision’ about the future of Brexit negotiations should be made by Sunday.
As the clock ticks towards the deadline for agreement on a trade deal, here is a look at the key moments in the saga:
January 23, 2013 – Under intense pressure from many of his own MPs and with the rise of Ukip, prime minister David Cameron promises an in-out referendum on EU membership if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.
May 7, 2015 – The Tories unexpectedly make sweeping gains over Ed Miliband’s Labour Party and secure a majority in the Commons. Mr Cameron vows to deliver his manifesto pledge of an EU referendum.
June 23, 2016 – The UK votes to leave the EU in a shock result that sees 52% of the public support Brexit and Mr Cameron quickly resigns as prime minister.
July 13, 2016 – Theresa May takes over as prime minister. Despite having backed Remain, she promises to ‘rise to the challenge’ of negotiating the UK’s exit.
November 10, 2016 – The High Court rules against the Government and says Parliament must hold a vote to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the mechanism that begins the exit from the EU. Mrs May says the ruling will not stop her from invoking the legislation by April 2017.
March 29, 2017 – Mrs May triggers Article 50. European Council president Donald Tusk says it is not a happy occasion, telling a Brussels press conference his message to the UK is: ‘We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.’
April 18, 2017 – Mrs May announces a snap general election to be held on June 8.
June 8, 2017 – There is humiliation for Mrs May as she loses her Commons majority after her election gamble backfires. She becomes head of a minority Conservative administration propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party.
September 22, 2017 – In a crucial Brexit speech in Florence, Mrs May sends a message to EU leaders by saying: ‘We want to be your strongest friend and partner as the EU and UK thrive side by side.’ She says she is proposing an ‘implementation period’ of ‘around two years’ after Brexit when existing market access arrangements will apply.
March 19, 2018 – The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, says he and Brexit secretary David Davis have taken a ‘decisive step’ towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK’s EU withdrawal but warns there are still outstanding issues relating to the Irish border.
July 6, 2018 – A crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers agrees Mrs May’s new Brexit plans, including the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area for goods. But not all who attend are happy with the compromises.
July 8 and July 9, 2018 – Mr Davis resigns from the Government in protest while the following day Boris Johnson quits as foreign secretary, claiming the plans mean ‘we are truly headed for the status of colony’ of the EU.
November 14, 2018 – In a statement outside 10 Downing Street after a five-hour Cabinet meeting, Mrs May says that Cabinet has agreed the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
November 15, 2018 – Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit secretary, saying he ‘cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU’. Other resignations follow.
November 25, 2018 – The 27 EU leaders endorse the Brexit deal.
December 12, 2018 – Mrs May survives an attempt to oust her with a vote of no confidence as Tory MPs vote by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot in Westminster.
January 15, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs May’s Brexit plans by an emphatic 432 to 202 in an historic vote which throws the future of her administration and the nature of the UK’s EU withdrawal into doubt.
March 20, 2019 – Mrs May tells the House of Commons that she has written to Mr Tusk to request an extension to Article 50 Brexit negotiations to June 30.
March 29, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement for a third time – by 286 votes to 344 – on the day the UK was due to leave the EU.
April 10, 2019 – The EU agrees a ‘flexible extension’ to Brexit until October 31. Mrs May says the ‘choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear’.
May 23, 2019 – Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party comes out on top in the European elections, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats also make gains.
May 24, 2019 – Mrs May announces she is standing down as Tory Party leader on June 7. She says: ‘It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.’
July 23, 2019 – Mr Johnson is elected as leader of the Conservative Party and becomes the UK’s new Prime Minister after defeating Jeremy Hunt.
August 20, 2019 – The new Prime Minister is rebuffed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after demanding major changes to Irish border arrangements in a new Brexit deal.
August 28, 2019 – The Queen is dragged into the Brexit row as Mr Johnson requests the prorogation of Parliament from early September to mid-October.
September 4, 2019 – MPs vote to approve legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson orders a purge of rebel Tories who opposed the Government including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Sir Kenneth Clarke.
The Prime Minister attempts to trigger an early general election but fails to get the required support of two-thirds of MPs.
September 24, 2019 – The Supreme Court rules that the PM’s advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament until October 14 was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating Parliament.
October 2, 2019 – Mr Johnson puts forward his formal Brexit plan to the EU, revealing his blueprint to solve the Irish border issue.
October 10, 2019 – Mr Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar say they can see a ‘pathway to a deal’, in a joint statement after key talks at a luxury hotel in Cheshire.
October 17, 2019 – After intense negotiations, the Prime Minister announces the UK has reached a ‘great deal’ with the EU which ‘takes back control’ and means that ‘the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together’.
October 19, 2019 – In the first Saturday sitting of the Commons in 37 years Mr Johnson seeks the support of MPs in a ‘meaningful vote’ on his new deal but instead they back an amendment forcing him to seek a delay.
October 22, 2019 – The Prime Minister mounts an attempt to fast-track his Brexit deal through Parliament but puts the plans on ice after MPs vote against his foreshortened timetable.
October 28, 2019 – EU leaders agree to a second Brexit ‘flextension’ until January 31 unless Parliament ratifies the deal sooner.
October 29, 2019 – Mr Johnson finally succeeds at the fourth attempt in winning Commons support for a general election on December 12.
December 12, 2019 – Having campaigned on a promise to ‘get Brexit done’, Mr Johnson secures a landslide win at the election and with an 80-seat majority.
January 8, 2020 – New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visits No 10 to warn Mr Johnson the timetable for a post-Brexit trade deal is ‘very, very tight’. The Prime Minister is clear however there will be no extension to the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020.
January 9, 2020 – Mr Johnson gets his Brexit deal through the Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is given a third reading with a majority of 99.
January 31, 2020 – A clock projected on the walls of Downing Street counts down the moments to the UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm.
March 2, 2020 – Mr Barnier and Mr Johnson’s chief EU adviser David Frost open formal talks in Brussels on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc, including a free trade agreement.
March 12, 2020 – The two sides announce they are suspending face-to-face talks due to the coronavirus pandemic and will explore the options for continuing the negotiations by video conferencing.
June 12, 2020 – Cabinet office minister Michael Gove formally tells the EU the UK will not sign up to an extension to the transition period, but he backtracks on plans to immediately introduce full border checks with the bloc on January 1.
September 10, 2020 – The European Commission threatens the UK with legal action after ministers announce plans for legislation enabling them to override provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland in breach of international law.
October 16, 2020 – Mr Johnson says he is halting talks on a trade deal accusing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels of seeking to impose ‘unacceptable’ demands.
November 7, 2020 – Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to ‘redouble’ their efforts to get a deal while acknowledging that significant differences remain over fisheries and the so-called ‘level playing field’ for state aid rules.
December 4, 2020 – Lord Frost and Mr Barnier announce in a joint statement the conditions for an agreement had still not been met and negotiations will be put on ‘pause’ to allow political leaders to take stock, with Mr Johnson and Mrs Von der Leyen to engage in emergency talks.
December 9, 2020 – Mr Johnson and Mrs Von der Leyen dine at the European Commission, with talks between the two leaders lasting around three hours.
After the meeting, a senior Downing Street source says the pair had a ‘frank discussion’ and that ‘very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged’.
The leaders agreed there would be further discussions between the negotiating teams, but that a ‘firm decision’ should be taken about the future of the talks by Sunday.