PM blasts sceptics and vows trade deal ‘is likely this year’
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.
No room for doom... Boris Johnson’s interview with BBC’s Dan Walker, inset