Johnson: Brexit deal with the EU ‘the…

Boris Johnson

A Brexit deal with the EU remains “there to be done”, Boris Johnson has said, with trade negotiations set to resume next week.

The Prime Minister said the “broad outlines are pretty clear” and that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen “totally agrees”.

It comes as the Prime Minister and Ms von der Leyen agreed during a phone call on Saturday to “redouble efforts” to reach a UK-EU trade deal and signed off on talks continuing next week.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister had told his Brussels counterpart that there remained “significant differences” in the UK-EU negotiations, with the two sides continuing to be apart on their positions over fishing rights and a level playing field agreement.

The call follows two weeks of intensified talks between the UK’s chief negotiator Lord Frost and his European Union equivalent Michel Barnier ahead of further discussions in London, starting on Monday.

Speaking about the negotiations, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners, I think it is there to be done.

“The broad outlines are pretty clear, we just need to get on and do it if we can. I’ve said that to Ursula von der Leyen just yesterday and she totally agrees with me.”

Earlier on Sunday, Dominic Raab said he was “confident” that the Northern Ireland hurdles could be overcome to ensure the UK achieves a trade deal.

The Foreign Secretary added he believed the UK Government would be able to ally American fears and navigate the Irish border issue to satisfy allies in the US following president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Mr Biden has expressed concern about the Internal Market Bill, which would override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland, and has warned the Good Friday agreement cannot be “a casualty of Brexit”.

Mr Rabb told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I’m confident we will navigate all of those issues sensitively, correctly, and, as I said, we listen very carefully to our American friends, particularly on the Hill and in the Irish lobby – they feel very invested in the Good Friday Agreement, we understand that, and I pay tribute to what George Mitchell and Bill Clinton did – but it is not the UK which is putting it at risk, it is the approach of the EU.”

But Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, urged ministers to scrap the controversial legislation if it was serious about building bridges with the new team headed for the White House.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (Yui Mok/PA)

“We will soon have a president in the Oval Office who has been a passionate advocate for the preservation of the Good Friday Agreement,” Sir Keir wrote in an article for the Guardian.

“He, like governments across the world, will take a dim view if our Prime Minister ploughs ahead with proposals to undermine that agreement.

“If the Government is serious about a reset in its relationship with the United States, then it should take an early first step and drop these proposals.”

Meanwhile Mr Raab, asked about the prospect of trade deal being secured with the EU by the end of the week, told Sky News: “There is progress being made but we’ve got to see whether it is enough to get us over the line.”

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