Brexit: Boris Johnson sets end-of-summer deadline as he calls for 'oomph' in trade talks
15 June 2020, 14:45 | Updated: 15 June 2020, 16:54
Boris Johnson has set an end-of-summer deadline for a trade deal with the EU - but has been warned a "level playing field" is "essential" to an agreement.
The prime minister held talks on Monday with European Council president Charles Michel, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament president David Sassoli.
The meeting came after the stalling of negotiations on a future UK-EU relationship on areas of difficulty, such as fisheries and so-called "level playing field" commitments for the UK to abide by EU rules and standards.
Following Monday's talks, Mr Michel said a "broad and ambitious agreement" was in both sides' "mutual interest".
"Ready to put a tiger in the tank but not to buy a pig in a poke," he posted on Twitter.
But the European Council president added: "Level playing field is essential."
Mr Michel's turn-of-phrase was an apparent repetition of Mr Johnson's own words.
After the talks, the prime minister revealed he had told the three presidents to "put a tiger in the tank" as he called for a "bit of oomph" in negotiations on a future UK-EU relationship.
Mr Johnson also appeared to set an end-of-summer deadline for agreeing a trade deal.
And he reiterated his view - in apparent defiance of Mr Michel's own statement - that the UK "can't leave the EU and remain, somehow, controlled by EU law".
"That isn't going to work," the prime minister said.
"But there is a good deal to be done.
"I certainly don't want to see it (the trade negotiations) going on until the autumn or winter, as I think - perhaps - in Brussels they would like.
"I don't see any point in that, so let's get it done."
The prime minister said he saw "no reason" why a trade deal couldn't be agreed next month.
"It's very clear what we need to achieve, I don't think we're actually that far apart," he said.
A joint UK-EU statement released after Monday's meeting said both sides had "welcomed the constructive discussions on the future relationship that had taken place".
It had allowed "both sides to clarify and further understand positions", the statement added.
"The parties agreed nevertheless that new momentum was required."
Mr Johnson and the EU presidents ratified plans to intensify talks on a future relationship in July and to "create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020".
The statement also revealed they had spoken about the prime minister's insistence that he will not extend the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December, despite the EU's preference for an extension.
"The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the withdrawal agreement," the statement said.
Last week, it was announced a new timetable for trade talks would see negotiations held in each of the five weeks between the week beginning 29 June and week beginning 27 July.
The UK officially left the EU in January but is currently in the Brexit transition period - meaning it maintains the status quo of membership of the bloc.
If the Brexit transition period ends without a deal being struck, the UK will likely have to trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms from next year.
Earlier on Monday, ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson's spokesman said the PM would use the talks "to urge renewed energy and commitment to reach an agreement by the end of the summer".
"The high-level meeting was always envisaged as a moment to push the negotiations forward," the spokesman added.
"We now need to get this resolved and deliver certainty for businesses at home and in the EU as soon as possible.
"We are looking to agree a high quality free-trade agreement based on the agreements the EU has already reached with other countries.
"But whatever happens we will be ready for 1 January when we will take back control of our laws, border and money."