EU defies Boris Johnson and declares UK will only get a 'bare-bones' trade deal or a no-deal Brexit next year

GettyEuropean Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union Michel Barnier (C) flanked by the EU deputy chief negotiator for Brexit Sabine Weyand (L) and the Michel Barnier Director Strategy, Coordination, Communication @MichelBarnier @EU_Commission; Negotiations with the #UK Stephanie Riso (R) arrive ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit at The Europa Building, the European Council on April 10, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.
  • The EU’s trade chief says Boris Johnson will only get a “bare-bones” trade deal with the EU next year, or none at all.
  • The prime minister has insisted that the UK will leave the EU in January and says there is “bags of time” to wrap up negotiations for a comprehensive new trade deal by December 2020.
  • But Sabine Weyand, the EU’s Director-General for Trade, said there wasn’t enough time to strike a new deal by then, leaving either a “bare-bones” deal or a hard no-deal exit, according to a Sun report.

The European Union’s trade chief has declared that Boris Johnson will only get a “bare-bones” trade deal next year – or none at all.

The prime minister has insisted that the United Kingdom will leave the EU in January next year and have time to secure a comprehensive free trade deal by the end of the transition period in December 2020.

But Sabine Weyand, the EU’s Director-General for Trade, said there was only time to negotiate a “bare-bones” deal with the UK next year, as the transition period will give negotiators less than 12 months of talks.

The other alternative, Weyand said, is a no-deal Brexit exit at the end of the transition period.

The remarks were reported by The Sun newspaper and are said to have been made during a breakfast meeting with the Transatlantic Policy Network in Brussels on Wednesday last week.

The official’s comments flatly contradict those of Johnson. He said on Monday that there was “absolutely no reason” why the UK could not wrap up all negotiations for a comprehensive deal in December 2020.

The UK can extend the transition period, under which the UK must abide by all EU rules, for two years to December 2022, but the prime minister has repeatedly vowed not to.

The Liberal Democrats said Weyand’s comments underlined the risk that a Conservative government would pursue a no-deal Brexit next year.

Chuka Umunna, the Lib Dems foreign affairs spokesperson, said: “It’s clear the Canada-style free trade agreement that the PM seeks cannot be negotiated within the next the next year.

“This is a simple confirmation that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the hardest of no-deal Brexits at the end of next year.”

An EU Commission spokesperson did not deny the comments but said they would not comment on a private meeting.

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