Hopes that Brexit tensions might thaw today took a hit after EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic nearly turned on an icy march.
Liz Truss was speechless as she watched European Commission Vice-President Mr Sefcovic narrowly avoid landing on his safety net.
It was an unfortunate moment as a number of photographers awaited a photoshoot in Chevening, Kent, ahead of crucial discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
As a result, the Foreign Minister was photographed with limp jaws as she and others watched in horror as the near-fall.
Mr Sefcovic managed to regain his composure and was able to take a group photo with Ms Truss, Europe Minister Christopher Heaton-Harris and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis.
Ahead of the meeting, Ms Truss, who has been acting as the UK’s main Brexit negotiator since Lord Frost resigned last month, said there was a ‘deal to be done’.
In a statement released ahead of the talks, she said: “There is an agreement to be made which protects the peace in Northern Ireland, defends our Union and upholds the integrity of the UK and the EU. But this will require a pragmatic approach on the part of the EU.
“I will propose practical and reasonable solutions on the basis of these fundamental principles, with a view to agreeing a plan for intensive negotiations.
“The EU has a clear responsibility to help solve the myriad problems caused by the Protocol and to protect the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday). As staunch supporters of freedom and democracy, we should be able to come to an agreement that benefits Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship. “
The UK is seeking fundamental changes to how the protocol works and oversees, while the EU has proposed limited changes aimed at reducing the impact on businesses in Northern Ireland.
Originally agreed in October 2019, the Northern Ireland Protocol prevents a hard Irish border by keeping it within the EU’s single goods market.
It also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which the EU accepts as a source of difficulty for businesses.
The UK government has said the protocol is “unbalanced” making it practically and politically unsustainable.