British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a trade deal with the European Union “needs to happen” and shared in Brussels that the broad outline of the agreement is already clear.
After months of negotiations on an agreement to protect trade from possible quotas and tariffs, the two sides have not yet concluded significant differences on at least two key sticking points.
Any deal must be agreed by mid-November, with some businesses hoping the time pressure and a Covid-19 crisis spreading across Europe will focus their minds on avoiding disruptions by the end of the year.
Johnson’s office said efforts to reach an agreement would be doubled if the European Union’s Michael Barnier and Britain’s David Frost resume talks in London.
“I have always been very keen on a business deal with our European friends and partners,” Johnson told reporters.
“I think it needs to be done. The broader outline is very clear. We need to do it if we can. I told European Commission President Ursula von Der Lane yesterday that she fully agrees with me.”
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Dominic Rabb told the BBC’s Andrew Mar Shaw that “if we have the flexibility to fish and fish from the European Union and a level playing field, there is a good chance of a deal.”
Disagreements over the guarantee of fair competition, especially state aid laws, have exacerbated the debate since Britain left the European Union in January, an area full of symbolism for Britain’s Brexit supporters.
Both sides have compromised to unlock the deal on the growing trial exchanges, which underscores the lack of trust, especially after Britain moved to weaken parts of the earlier divorce agreement.
Britain wants a separate trade deal with the United States, but some say Johnson will try to forge closer ties with President – elect Joe Biden, who has raised suspicions about Brexit in the past and has never met the Prime Minister.
He said he was confident the UK would overcome Northern Ireland’s obstacles to securing a trade deal with the European Union.
He believes the UK government will be able to eliminate American ideas and navigate the Northern Ireland issue to appease US allies in the wake of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
It is very clear that we are fully committed to respecting the Good Friday Agreement, but our argument is that it was good to have the opportunity to explain when I was in Washington that the European Union put pressure on the approach it took.
“We want to resolve all issues with the EU – obviously the negotiations are ongoing and there is a good chance of a deal if there is flexibility from the EU in the fisheries and level playing field,” he said.
“I’m sure we’ll navigate all of these issues sensitively, and as I said, we’re paying close attention to our American friends, especially the Hill and the Irish lobby, and I’m sure they’ve invested in the Good Friday deal, and I’m sure they did. It is not the UK that is endangered, it is the approach of the European Union. “
Additional Reporting PA