PM blasts scep­tics and vows trade deal ‘is likely this year’

Daily Express - - £500,000 Appeal To Bong US Out Of EU - By Sam Lis­ter

BORIS John­son dis­missed Brus­sels doom-mon­ger­ing over the next stage of Brexit to in­sist a trade deal is likely this year.

Talks will be­gin with the Euro­pean Union in Fe­bru­ary but Bri­tain will also start par­al­lel dis­cus­sions with other coun­tries in­clud­ing the US at the same time, the Prime Min­is­ter con­firmed.

Euro­crats have claimed that reach­ing an agree­ment on new trad­ing ar­range­ments by De­cem­ber is un­likely.

Mr John­son warned that “you al­ways have to bud­get for a com­plete fail­ure of com­mon sense”.

But he in­sisted it was “enor­mously likely, epi­cally likely” that a com­pre­hen­sive deal would be reached by the end of the tran­si­tion pe­riod.

He told BBC Break­fast: “I’m very, very, very con­fi­dent that we’ll get a deal”.

But in the in­ter­view with pre­sen­ter Dan Walker he also warned: “From Jan­uary 31, we’re go­ing to start work­ing with our friends and part­ners around the world – not just with the EU.”

The US tops the list of coun­tries out­side the bloc that the Govern­ment wants to be­gin ne­go­ti­a­tions with as soon as the coun­try has left.

Mr John­son has in­sisted he will not push back the De­cem­ber dead­line for securing a pact with Brus­sels, but crit­ics claim the timescale is too tight.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen has in­sisted it will be “im­pos­si­ble” to reach a com­pre­hen­sive trade deal this year and Ire­land’s deputy prime min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney said it was “un­re­al­is­tic”.

Ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments be­tween the UK and EU will re­main in place un­til the end of the tran­si­tion pe­riod.

EU com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan, who will over­see the next stage of talks, said “trade-offs” will need to be made.

He sug­gested Bri­tain will have to make con­ces­sions on fish­ing rights if it wants ac­cess to fi­nan­cial mar­kets, which is seen as cru­cial for the City.

Pic­tures: GETTY, PA & ALAMY

No room for doom... Boris John­son’s in­ter­view with BBC’s Dan Walker, in­set

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