PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson urged the country to ‘get ready’ for a no deal Brexit as his deadline date for securing an agreement passed.
In September Mr Johnson revealed a self-imposed deadline of October 15 for a trade deal to be struck with the EU.
However that date passed last week, with no deal made.
Instead the following morning Mr Johnson made a statement to the nation claiming it was time to “prepare for the alternative”.
“We have been in a transition period obeying EU law, paying our fees – as a non-voting member – working on the future relationship we hope to enjoy with our friends and partners from January,” he explained on October 16.
“And from the outset we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship, based on friendship and free trade.
“To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels that won’t work for our EU partners.
“They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country.”
Reminding the public that there are now just ten weeks until the end of the Brexit transition period, which concludes in January 1, 2021, he claimed he had to “make a judgment about the likely outcome and to get us all ready”.
“Given that [the EU] have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade,” he stated.
“And so now is the time for our businesses to get ready, and for hauliers to get ready, and for travellers to get ready.
“So with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has since called for the transition period to be extended, to allow further time for a deal to be agreed.
“The last thing London needs is the chaos and uncertainty of a no-deal Brexit,” he said.
He added: “If a deal is not secured soon, I’m calling on the Government to seek an immediate extension to the transition period. Getting this deadly virus under control and protecting jobs, livelihoods and businesses must be our absolute priority.”
Despite Downing Street ruling out any further EU negotiations following Mr Johnson’s speech, the fourth meeting of the EU/British Joint Committee on the Withdrawal Agreement took place virtually today in London.
Joint leaders Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster represented the Northern Ireland Executive at the meeting, which was co-chaired by Michael Gove MP and the European Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.
Speaking after the meeting Michelle O’Neill said: “Time is undoubtedly short to secure a future partnership between the EU and British Government, but a fair deal, not at any cost, is still possible and I hope that negotiators are successful in their efforts over the coming days and weeks ahead.”
The Sinn Féin vice-president added: “It is my determination to ensure that the Irish Protocol is rigorously implemented by the end of this year.
“It is specifically designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the achievements of the peace process and prevent a return of the border on the island of Ireland.”