Brexit: Boris Johnson claims there is 'good deal to be done' with EU

3 October 2020, 17:45

Boris Johnson has said he is hopeful of a Brexit deal by the end of the year
Boris Johnson has said he is hopeful of a Brexit deal by the end of the year. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Boris Johnson has said there is a "good deal to be done" with the EU following weeks of hostility between the two Brexit negotiating teams.

The Prime Minister said he wants to secure a trade deal like that struck between the European Union and Canada.

He told reporters: "I think there's a good deal to be done and everybody knows what we want to do.

"The EU has done a deal with Canada which is a long way away, big country but some way away.

"Here we are, we're the biggest trading partner of the EU, their biggest export market, plus we've been a member for 45 years - we want a deal like Canada's, we want that one."

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He added: "If that's not possible, and that wouldn't be our call that would be their call, then the alternative is to have a deal like Australia which is another big country, further away, but it would work well and we could make it work very well.

"We're resolved on either course, we're prepared for either course and we'll make it work but it's very much up to our friends and partners."

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has said he was also "optimistic" about the prospects of a Brexit trade deal being struck in the near future.

Speaking in conversation with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street at the virtual Conservative Party conference, Mr Gove said: "I'm optimistic. It has been a tough process because the EU has never had to cope with any country leaving its orbit before, and it is a bit difficult.

"As we leave the nest and become good neighbours rather than uncomfortable lodgers, the EU has to adjust.

"Several aspects of the adjustment have proved difficult for the European Union - recognising that we share the same high environmental and workforce standards as they do but we want to do things in our own way is a bit difficult for them and also there is the very vexed issue to do with fisheries.

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"The EU think that they should have exactly the same access to our waters outside the European Union as they have inside.

"But I think with goodwill we should be able to get a deal."

Discussing the possibility of a trade deal with the EU at the Tory conference, Mr Gove added: "I suspect there will be one or two ups and downs along the way but I am optimistic that we will get a deal.

"But if we don't, we have been making extensive preparations to be ready for anything."

It follows warnings from the UK's former representative to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers that a no-deal Brexit remains highly likely unless both negotiating teams are willing to compromise.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the virtual Conservative Party conference the UK will no longer be "held over a barrel by Brussels".

During his conference speech, he said: "Yes we want a free trade deal with the EU, but any deal must be fair.

"The days of being held over a barrel by Brussels are long gone.

"Under the Conservatives, there is no question: our Government will control our fisheries, our Parliament will pass our laws and our courts will judge them."

Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to intensify talks during a video conference call on Saturday after acknowledging that "significant gaps remained" between the UK and Brussels.

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A Downing Street spokesman said: "The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke today about the state of play in the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

"They agreed on the importance of finding an agreement, if at all possible, as a strong basis for a strategic EU-UK relationship in future.

"They endorsed the assessment of both chief negotiators that progress had been made in recent weeks but that significant gaps remained, notably but not only in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field, and governance.

"They instructed their chief negotiators to work intensively in order to try to bridge those gaps.

"They agreed to speak on a regular basis on this issue."