UK PM Johnson Sets Oct 15 Deadline for Brexit Deal

On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the deadline of 15 October for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union to mitigate concerns of "no-deal" uncertainty if negotiations fail.

The eighth round of talks will resume in London this week, with both sides negotiating increasingly hard, on charges of intransigence and diplomatic brinkmanship, reports NDTV.

UK chief negotiator David Frost did nothing to lift hopes of a breakthrough, pledging no concession on London's red lines, in a rare newspaper interview published on Sunday.

His EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, said this week that talks were either continuing or not on the need to reach an agreement on EU access to UK fishing waters and state aid laws, but Britain was not giving any ground.

Brussels has already stated that the new agreement could be reached in mid-October, without the need for clarification and ratification by the European Parliament.

Johnson accepted, after months of refusing to accept a definite cut-off date.

"There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European Council on October 15 if it's going to be in force by the end of the year," he said in remarks released by his office.

"So, there is no sense in thinking beyond that point. If we can't agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us."

If that happens, Britain will have an "Australia-style" agreement with the EU or one close to that negotiated with Canada and other countries, he said.

Australia is dealing with the EU under the rules and tariffs of the World Trade Organisation. But Johnson, whose government had said that it required a "zero duty, zero quota" policy, maintained that it would still be a "positive result" for Britain.

Door open

Johnson's warning will likely compound criticisms from British pro-EU "remainers" that his ruling Conservative government envisaged a "no-deal" scenario all along, despite claiming the contrary.

"Brexiteers" had promised that securing a deal with Britain's biggest trading partner would be straightforward and rejected criticism that unravelling nearly 50 years of ties with Europe would be lengthy and even impossible.

Britain officially left the 27-member alliance on 31 January, nearly four years after a split referendum that devastated the country economically and saw two prime ministers resign.

Johnson, who, after Theresa May, consistently struggled to get a breezy divorce agreement through parliament, vowed Britain's borders and ports would be ready when the so-called transition phase comes to an end on 31 December.

Britain remains bound by EU rules when seeking to negotiate new terms of its partnership.

The talks, which were on a tight schedule even before the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, have stalled, in particular as a result of wrangling over fishing rights and fair competition laws.

Johnson did not rule out the contract in its entirety and promised to work hard this month to meet it. But he vowed that Britain will "be ready" if the talks broke down.

"We will have full control over our laws, our rules, and our fishing waters," he promised.

"We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world. And we will prosper mightily as a result.

"We will of course always be ready to talk to our EU friends even in these circumstances....

"Our door will never be closed and we will trade as friends and partners - but without a free trade agreement."


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