Boris Johnson Says No Brexit Deal Is Now "Very, Very Likely"
Boris Johnson has doubled down on the prospect that Britain will fail to get a Brexit deal, saying today it is now "very, very likely" that there will be no-deal.
Speaking in the Northumberland coastal town of Blyth, the Prime Minister said that the EU is presenting options on law making and fishing waters that do not currently work for the UK.
Last minute trade talks with the EU are continuing until Sunday, when a decision will be made by both sides whether there is any point in continuing. In recent days President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has also offered a gloomy prognosis on the chances of an agreement being reached.
Johnson today said: "We're hopeful that progress can be made, but I've got to tell you that from where I stand now, here in Blyth, it's looking, you know, very, very likely that we will have to go for a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK - we'd be able to do exactly what we want from January the 1st - it would obviously be different from what we set out to achieve, but I've no doubt that this country can get ready. And as I say, come out on World Trade terms."
He said the EU wants to include a "ratchet clause", which means that as the EU develops new laws and rules on standards, for example on environmental issues, Britain must keep pace with regulations so that the EU is not at an economic disadvantage.
Following dinner in Brussels on Wednesday, Johnson and von der Leyen agreed to extend talks further.
But less than 24 hours later, the Prime Minister painted a grim picture of the chance of progress, claiming current proposals on the table are not right for the UK because of the EU's stance on equivalence and fishing rights.
"There’s a couple of things at least, the most important is really in just the last couple of weeks, they’ve brought back the idea of this equivalence between the UK and the EU which basically means that whatever new laws they brought in we would have to follow or else face punishment, sanctions, tariffs or whatever," he said.
"And it was put to me that this was kind of a bit like twins and the UK is one twin the EU is another and if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment.
"Or if the EU decides to buy an expensive handbag then the UK has to buy an expensive handbag too or else face tariffs…Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed and it’s unlike any other free trade deal. It’s a way of keeping the UK kind of locked in the EU’s orbit - in their regulatory orbit."
On fishing, he said the EU is not proposing to allow Britain control of its own waters.
He said: "And so the Cabinet agreed very strongly with it that we’re really not there yet at all."
In the coming days he said he would travel to wherever is needed to try and strike a trade deal - whether that's Brussels, Paris or Berlin. Though he warned that no-deal, which he describes as "Australian terms", are a possible outcome.
"There’s always the possibility, the prospect of coming out on Australia terms, which I believe are very good terms and we can prosper mightily in that future which is just around the corner. And there are all sorts of amazing opportunities for this country.
"So what I told the Cabinet this evening is to get on and make those preparations. We’re not stopping talks, we’ll continue to negotiate but looking at where we are I do think it’s vital that everyone now gets ready for that Australian option."