Britain rejects any extension of a Brexit transition period or further talks past this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Monday as negotiations in Brussels went down to the wire.
“Time is obviously now in very short supply. We are in the final stages. We are prepared to negotiate for as long as we have time available, if we think an agreement is still possible,” the spokesman told reporters.
But he stressed: “We’ve been clear on multiple occasions that we won’t be extending the transition period. That remains the case.”
Asked whether talks might continue next year, on the basis of a provisional deal to avoid a cliff-edge divorce on December 31, the spokesman added: “I can rule that out.”
Unless the EU gives ground on the main outstanding issues, Johnson believes “it won’t be possible to reach an agreement” and Britain will “prosper” on stripped-down trading terms, he said.
British and European Union negotiators made a last-ditch effort on Monday to bridge stubborn differences standing in the way of a post-Brexit trade deal, but they had at best 48 hours left to avoid a disorderly parting of ways at the end of this month.
“EU-UK negotiations have entered the endgame, time is running out quickly,” said an EU diplomat after the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier gave member states’ envoys to Brussels a downbeat assessment of the state of play.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin, whose country would be the hardest hit of the 27 EU states if there is no trade accord, put the chances of a deal at 50-50. Investment bank JPMorgan said its odds on a no-deal had risen to one third from 20 per cent.