With the end of the Brexit transition period now just weeks away, many hoped Boris Johnson’s last-ditch dinner with European commissioner might finally bridge some of the huge gaps in a UK-EU trade deal.
Imagine our surprise when not even a fish supper (yes, really) was able to heal the divides, with both parties saying “very large gaps” remained in negotiations.
There also appeared to be “very large gaps” between Britain and the EU when it came to wardrobe choices, as demonstrated by this rather unfortunate photo showing a dishevelled Johnson and chief Europe adviser David Frost.
Johnson’s loose tie, shapeless suit and messy hair alongside Frost’s errant collar stood out somewhat beside an immaculately turned out Ursula von der Leyen and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
In the absence of any real Brexit developments for what feels like the millionth day in a row, the picture dominated discussions online – with some pretty unflattering comparisons drawn.
From Worzel Gummidge to Benny Hill, Twitter users didn’t hold back:
“How can someone this powerful and wealthy dress like a poorly stuffed scarecrow who’s been pulled through a gorse bush?” wrote one Twitter user.
Others also commented on Johnson’s suit, with one person remarking the picture was “not a good ad for British tailoring”.
To borrow one of Johnson’s own catchphrases, another remarked: “We’re world-beating at dressing badly”.
Others were, well, a little more succinct in their opinions.
Meanwhile, talks on a post-Brexit trade deal are unlikely to be extended beyond Sunday unless the European Union drops some of its key demands, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has said.
Raab told the BBC on Thursday that, while he could not rule out a further extension in the talks process, it is important to have “finality”.
He said: “I think it’s unlikely but I can’t categorically exclude it.”
The Cabinet minister added that there has not been “enough pragmatism and flexibility on the EU side” and called for “substantial movement” from the bloc in order to seal a deal before the weekend is out.
Negotiations have faltered on 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.