Johnson “very, very confident” of UK-EU trade deal in 2020
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that it is "enormously likely" that the UK will agree a trade deal with the EU by the December 31 cut-off point for the Brexit transitional period.
Speaking with the BBC’s Dan Walker in his first major TV interview since last month’s general election, Johnson said that the UK and EU would begin work on a “fantastic new partnership after January 31, adding that he is "very, very confident" that it can be done on time despite concerns from Brussels that 11 months is an insufficient window.
Johnson did concede, however, that the government would “budget for a complete failure of common sense”, in the event that a trade deal cannot be agreed on time.
Johnson’s plan, however, is likely to face difficulties after the EU announced today that his proposed free trade agreement would end “frictionless trade” with the bloc.
According to the Independent, an internal slide show created by the European Commission states that market opening will be “limited” and customs checks will be imposed on British goods.
Most importantly, the slides show that the EU has ruled out any “mutual recognition” of regulations between the EU and UK to prevent the UK from having a competitive advantage over the bloc. Brussels is also planning to insist on a suspension of any trade agreement if the UK deregulates to a point which threatens the EU’s “level playing field.”
The prime minister also hinted that the government is weighing up restoring the Big Ben chime to mark the moment that Brexit occurs at 23:00 GMT on January 31.
The Palace of Westminster is currently undergoing renovation works and bringing the bell back into use for the one night is estimated to come at a cost of £500,000.
Johnson said: “We are working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”.