Johnson warns Brexit talks ‘looking difficult’ but discussions continue

Boris Johnson has warned the prospect of agreeing a trade deal with the EU is “looking difficult”, as Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there are “just a few hours” left in the Brexit talks.

The Prime Minister said on Friday the onus is on the bloc seeing “sense” and making a compromise or the transition period will end on December 31 without a deal, which he acknowledged would be “difficult” in the short-term.

Mr Johnson reiterated “no sensible government” could agree to a treaty that does not give the nation control of its laws and waters, two major sticking points for No 10 in the negotiations.

Speaking during a visit to Greater Manchester, the PM said: “Our door is open, we’ll keep talking, but I have to say things are looking difficult.

“There’s a gap that needs to be bridged, the UK has done a lot to try and help and we hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves, because that’s really where we are.”

Mr Johnson spoke down the prospects of getting a deal after Thursday’s stocktake on the situation with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

He accepted failing to broker a deal in time “may be difficult at first”, but he continued to insist the UK will “prosper mightily” and the nation must look to the “opportunities that will open up to this country in 2021”.