Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will speak on Saturday in an attempt to unblock talks on a post-Brexit trade deal.

In a joint statement, Michel Barnier and Lord Frost said they had suspended discussions while they brief Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on the state of play.

The two leaders will then discuss the situation in a call on Saturday afternoon.

Irish premier Micheal Martin, whose country is expected to be among the biggest losers if the two sides failed to reach an agreement, said he “fervently” hoped there would be a deal.

For months, the main sticking points in the negotiations have been the same:

– Fisheries:

The EU wants to continue to maximise access to UK waters for its fishing fleets after December 31.

The British argue the UK is now an independent coastal state and should be able to prioritise its own boats.

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However, most fish caught by UK fishermen are sold in Europe and Britain needs to maintain access to EU markets.

BrexitFuture fishing rights remains a key sticking point in the talks (Gareth Fuller/PA)

– 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.

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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.

– Governance:

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.