Johnson urges EU to be ‘common-sensical’ as post-Brexit trade deal within grasp

Boris Johnson has urged the European Union to be “common-sensical”, insisting that a post-Brexit trade deal was within grasp.

Following the final scheduled round of formal negotiations in Brussels, the Prime Minister will take stock of progress in a conference call with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday.

Ahead of their talks, Mr Johnson said there was “every chance” that an agreement could be reached while Mrs von der Leyen said it was time to “intensify” the negotiations.

Brexit
Brexit

The announcement of the video conference between the two leaders prompted speculation they could be preparing to launch a final series of intensive talks – dubbed “the tunnel” – in a last push for an agreement.

In a series of regional broadcast interviews, Mr Johnson told BBC Midlands there was “every chance to get a deal”, adding: “It’s up to our friends and partners to be common-sensical.”

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, he added: “They’ve done a deal with Canada of a kind that we want, why shouldn’t they do it with us? We’re so near, we’ve been members for 45 years. It’s all there, it’s just up to them.”

Speaking at a news conference in the Belgian capital, Mrs von der Leyen said she believed a deal was still possible but warned that time was running out.

She said the “most difficult issues” – including fisheries and state aid rules – still had to be resolved if they were to get an agreement in place by the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

“It is good to have a deal – but not at any price,” she said.

“We have made progress on many, many different fields but of course the most difficult ones are still completely open.

“But overall, where there is a will, there is a way, so I think we should intensify the negotiations because it is worth working hard on it.

“We are running out of time – around 100 days to the end of the year – so it is worth stepping up now.”