Johnson – UK-EU ‘deal still there to be done’ but Brussels’ demands unacceptable

No prime minister could accept the demands the European Union is currently making as the price for a trade deal, Boris Johnson said ahead of crunch talks with Brussels’ top official.

The Prime Minister will fly to Brussels for dinner with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen with the negotiations in crisis and time running out.

Time is running out to reach a trade agreement before the current transitional arrangements expire at the end of the month but Mr Johnson insisted a deal was still possible.

At Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Johnson set out the main problems he has with the EU’s position, although he said “a good deal is still there to be done”.

He said: “Our friends in the EU are currently insisting that if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply or don’t follow suit, then they want the automatic right to punish us and to retaliate.

“Secondly, they are saying that the UK should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters.

“I don’t believe that those are terms that any prime minister of this country should accept.”

He again insisted the UK would “prosper mightily” with or without a deal – a claim which has been disputed by economic experts including the Office for Budget Responsibility and the governor of the Bank of England.

Failure to reach agreement would see tariffs imposed on UK exports to the EU, the country’s biggest trading partner, and could also increase bureaucracy.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has suggested that a no-deal outcome could wipe 2% off gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy, in 2021.

The Bank’s governor Andrew Bailey has warned that the long-term damage caused by a no-deal situation would be worse than the economic hit from coronavirus.