European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament these are “decisive days” for negotiations with the UK on a post-Brexit trade agreement, adding: “I cannot tell you today if, in the end, there will be a deal.”

She said the bloc is “ready to be creative” to resolve the major issues of fisheries policy, governance of any deal and measures to prevent unfair competition between the UK and EU, “but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market, the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth”.

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She added: “One thing is clear: whatever the outcome, there has to be and there will be a clear difference between being a full member of the European Union and just being a valued partner.”

Negotiations are continuing, but a deal needs to be concluded in time for it to be ratified before the transition period expires at the end of the year.

Boris Johnson said the Government will not be extending the Brexit transition period.

Alliance MP Stephen Farry (North Down) said: “The Northern Ireland business community is extremely concerned that it is now impossible to be ready to fully implement the protocol from January 1.

“Their top priority is to ask the EU for an adjustment or grace period. This request is based on respect for the protocol and is not about an extension to the transition period.

“Will the Prime Minister give his support to this ask?”

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Mr Johnson replied: “Of course we’re not going to extend the transition period but we want to make practical arrangements to help businesses in Northern Ireland and we’ve agreed, for instance, a one-year adjustment period so there is no disruption to the flow of medicines.

“And we’ve already launched a £200m trader support service to help agri-food businesses and others and that’s going to… more details will be announced shortly.”