Brexit deal ‘is there to be done’: Boris Johnson is confident he can ink an agreement with the EU as clocks tick down on trade talks
- Prime Minister said the two sides were in sight of a deal during talks in London
- EU chief Bexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London last night
- He said a good Brexit deal ‘is necessary because of the terror threat in Europe’
A Brexit trade deal with the EU is ‘there to be done’, Boris Johnson said yesterday.
It came as peers prepared to vote down his controversial Brexit legislation in the Lords.
As last-ditch trade talks resume in London today, the Prime Minister said the two sides were in sight of a deal. ‘I’ve always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners,’ he said.
‘I think it’s there to be done, the broad outlines are pretty clear.’
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London last night ahead of five days of ‘intensive’ talks with his British counterpart David Frost.
As last-ditch trade talks resume in London today, the Prime Minister said the two sides were in sight of a deal
According to sources, Barnier said a good Brexit deal is necessary because of the terror threat in Europe.
In private meetings with Brussels officials last week, he said he feels ‘a weight of responsibility on my shoulders’ to find a good agreement because of economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to The Sun.
Negotiators have been working to a ‘final’ deadline of November 15 but sources last night said that talks could continue beyond this for ‘a few days’ if a deal is close.
It comes as peers prepare to vote down controversial parts of the Government’s Internal Market Bill, which override last year’s Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland, in the Lords tonight.
If this happens ministers will ask MPs to reinstate them in the hope peers will then back down. The Lords could continue to reject them, using their power to delay legislation for a year, which could spark a major constitutional row.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London last night (pictured) ahead of five days of ‘intensive’ talks with his British counterpart David Frost
The provisions have also been criticised by US President-elect Joe Biden, who has warned that any move to undermine the peace process could also jeopardise hopes of a US-UK trade deal. But Mr Johnson last night denied reports the Government is on the brink of dropping the measures, which are designed to prevent the creation of a trade border down the Irish Sea in the event of there being no deal with the EU.
Asked if the legislation would go ahead as planned, Mr Johnson said: ‘Yes… the parliamentary timetable goes ahead. The whole point of that Bill and indeed the Finance Bill is to protect and uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.
‘And again, that’s one of the things that we’re united on with our friends in the White House.’
A Government source said ministers would seek to restore any parts of the legislation thrown out by peers tonight when the Bill returns to the Commons.
Ministers acknowledged that the Government will have to persuade Mr Biden, who has Irish heritage, that the legislation is necessary if trade talks with the EU collapse.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: ‘I’m confident we will navigate all of those issues sensitively and correctly.’ Mr Johnson said yesterday that there was a ‘good chance’ of a trade deal with the US and progress had already been made.
Sources in the Biden camp suggested the issue would not be an immediate priority for the president.