It's time to prepare for no-trade deal Brexit: PM Johnson

Council President Charles Michel on 15 October 2020

Council President Charles Michel on 15 October 2020

"There is only any point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week if he is prepared to discuss all of the issues on the basis of legal texts in an accelerated way, without the United Kingdom being required to make all of the moves". AP's earlier story follows below.

Johnson said discussions showed the European Union would not give Britain a comprehensive trade deal such as the one the bloc has with Canada.

Mr Johnson said "now is the time for our businesses, hauliers and travellers to get ready", however he remained willing to do mini-deals on areas where progress had been made, including on social security coordination, or aviation, road haulage and nuclear cooperation.

Michel Barnier let things slip on Thursday when he said he'd be in London for intensified talks next week, while Ursula von der Leyen has said the negotiations would take place "as planned".

Their calls for urgency were balanced however by an invitation that Britain keep talking next week in London and in Brussels the week after that.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said still believes it would be in both sides' interest to have a deal. "We are prepared to continue negotiating".

In the morning, Boris Johnson said the country had to "get ready" to trade next year without an agreement, although he did not say the talks were over.

The prime minister had threatened to walk away if there was no agreement by the time of the EU Summit, which began yesterday.

Brussels in turn stresses that Britain's economy is far more integrated with and closer to the EU's than Canada's, and that its single market must be protected from British backsliding. He said Britain would listen if there was "a fundamental change of approach" from Brussels.

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"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", Johnson said. "It can either fundamentally change position or we will leave on Australian terms, under which we will prosper", Johnson's spokesman added. Earlier this week, the OECD warned that a "disorderly" exit from the European Union at the end of the Brexit transition period "would have a major negative impact on trade and jobs". The two sides have been trying to strike a deal on trade and other relations before then, and say in practice it must be agreed this month if it is to be ratified by year's end.

Despite Johnson's intransigent tone, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Friday that gaps between the two sides were narrow.

"If there is no deal, European fishermen will have no access to British waters whatsoever".

He said the issues yet to be resolved were "narrow", relating to fisheries and competition.

Britain accuses the bloc of seeking to impose demands that it has not placed on other countries it has free trade deals with, such as Canada.

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said they could not afford to give up on negotiations and called on both sides to exercise "tenacity, common sense and compromise".

"From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship, based on friendship and free trade", he said.

"We are ready to negotiate, we are ready to continue the negotiations and I hope it will be possible to make progress in the future", he said. "This of course means that we too have to make compromises".

Speaking after the first day of the European Council summit, the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier had indicated willingness to pursue "intensive" talks in London next week and Brussels the week after.

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