Katy Balls

Boris Johnson talks down the chances of a Brexit deal

Boris Johnson talks down the chances of a Brexit deal
Boris Johnson (photo: Getty)
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In recent months, Boris Johnson and his team have been keen to suggest there is a hard deadline when it comes to agreeing a Brexit deal. The Prime Minister argued last month that both sides ought to walk away from the talks and prepare for no deal if there was no agreement by the EU summit on October 15. With last night's summit coming and going with no agreement made, the chances of a deal appear on the surface to have fallen significantly.

With EU leaders calling for the trade talks to continue, Johnson has this morning offered a rebuke. Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said that after little progress at the summit, it was time to prepare for no deal – or, to use No. 10's own words, an Australian-style deal: 'I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade'. With the EU refusing to entertain the idea of a Canada-style relationship and insisting on a say on UK laws and fisheries, Johnson suggested that unless there is a change in approach from Brussels there would be no agreement. 

So, are we heading for a no-deal scenario? When asked whether the government was abandoning the talks, Johnson said it was the EU that had 'abandoned the idea of a free trade deal'. But crucially he didn't completely rule out further discussions – saying the EU must come to them. With EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier offering to come to London next week, there appears to be space for this. Despite Johnson's tough talk, figures on both sides of the talks believe a deal is possible. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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