POLITICS
19/10/2020 14:20 BST

No.10 Rules Out Brexit Talks In 2021 If No Deal Is Reached This Year

It's now or never for a UK-EU trade deal, Boris Johnson has warned Brussels.

Boris Johnson has ruled out Brexit negotiations in 2021 to resolve any damage caused by failing to agree a trade deal by the end of the transition period on December 31.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson repeated demands for concessions from Brussels before talks can resume on the future UK-EU relationship.

But if there is no agreement and the UK and EU default to World Trade Organisation trading terms on January 1 – widely predicted to be the most economically damaging Brexit outcome – Johnson will not return to the negotiating table next year.

Some Brexit observers have speculated that the two sides may return to negotiations once the damaging impacts of failing to agree a trade deal come to fruition

But the PM’s spokesperson said: “We are very clear that we will not be back to negotiate further next year.”

No.10 also said the PM was “certain that we will prosper” under so-called “Australian terms”, which business secretary Alok Sharma admitted on Monday were broadly the same as a no-deal Brexit, describing the difference as a matter of “semantics”.

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier and the prime minister’s Europe adviser Lord Frost were speaking on Monday afternoon with the trade talks in limbo following the lack of progress at last week’s summit of EU leaders.

 “If the EU change their position then we will be willing to talk to them,” the PM’s spokesperson said.

“But they must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas.”

They must also be committed to a resolution that “respects UK sovereignty and independence”.

“If not, we will end the transition period on Australian terms,” the spokesperson said.

Johnson last week accused European leaders of having “abandoned the idea of a free trade deal” and told the country to “get ready” for leaving without a deal.

And Lord Frost told Barnier not to travel for planned talks, with the UK calling for a fundamental change in direction of the bloc’s approach.

But they are expected to discuss the structure of future talks over videoconferencing.

The joint committee on implementing the withdrawal agreement (WA) Johnson and the EU signed earlier this year also met on Monday morning, with face-to-face talks between Michael Gove and his opposite number Maros Sefcovic.

Gove will update the Commons on Monday afternoon, as the row over the government’s law-breaking internal market bill reaches the Lords.

Ahead of the Lords debate, the UK’s five Anglican archbishops intervened to criticise the controversial new legislation, which gives minister the powers to renege on aspects of the WA, as setting a “disastrous precedent”.