Despite the Prime Minister’s current deal passing its second reading in the House of Commons before the general election was triggered, the EU has hinted at a refusal to fast-track the Tory leader’s post-Brexit trade deal. A leaked document shows they plan to move “swiftly” to the next phase of the negotiating process after the major December 12 ballot. But that same document, obtained by The Guardian, makes reference to “making the best possible use of the limited time available” and was dropped from another version of the text.
In preparing the document it has been reported the EU has some doubts over whether Mr Johnson’s 11-month timeline for post-Brexit trade talks to be wrapped up by is achievable.
Some are reported to even be praying he goes above on his fresh “do or die” mantra, as well as his others, to allow for more time for arrangements to be made.
One said: “Of course Boris said he would rather die in a ditch; he didn’t die in a ditch, but he accepted to go beyond 31 October.
“It is not unlikely that there could be an extension of the transition period.”
The source, an EU diplomat, added that Mr Johnson had proved “more pragmatic than anyone expected”.
The news comes after Mr Johnson was warned that Britain will be “at the mercy” of the EU should Parliament get rid of the only protective “weapon” left available to the UK.
Mr Johnson insisted he will ensure Britain leaves the European Union on January 31, 2020 to then focus his attention on striking a new post-Brexit deal with the bloc by December 2020.
The Prime Minister pledged to deliver Britain out on October 31 but was prevented to do so as Parliament temporarily took no deal off the table and pushed Mr Johnson to ask for an extension.
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But the Conservative leader was warned he would leave the UK “at the mercy” of the UK should MPs succeed in getting rid of the hard Brexit option.
Speaking to BBC Politics Live, political commentator Melanie Phillips said: “Having a fixed, clear point was one of the reasons why Mrs May came to grief because it gave the EU a weapon.
“Britain has a potential weapon, which is no deal. Without that, Britain is at the mercy of the EU. With a fixed time at the end of the year, it is completely at the mercy of the EU.”
Ms Phillips also dismissed claims by the Prime Minister suggesting he will be able to secure a new trade deal with the EU by December 2020, pointing out the UK receive one last chance to extend the transition period to properly conclude trade talks with Brussels.
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She continued: “If it is then extended, the actual deadline for an extension is July 1. The decision has to be made by July 1.
“There’s no way on Earth that a deal of this complexity is going to be anywhere near hammered out by then.”
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to seeing Brexit delivered should he be elected after the December 12 general election.
Mr Johnson said yesterday: “I think there is a big trust issue with the whole of politics at the moment.
“I think that is basically because after three-and-a-half years we haven’t got done what we told the people we would do in 2016.
“We asked them to vote in the EU referendum, they did deliver a result and for the last two to three-and-a-half years we have been wrangling.
“I got to the stage as Prime Minister where it was obvious we couldn’t get this thing through Parliament.”
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