“We can still reach a good deal,” Mr Johnson told MEPs, before heading to Brussels to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, three weeks before the UK’s exit from the single European market.
He added, however, that there were still differences due to Europeans’ demands on a level playing field and fishing. “I think these are terms that no prime minister of this country should accept,” he said.
Mr Johnson assured that whatever the outcome of the post-Brexit negotiations, “this country will be ready”. “There will be jobs created throughout the UK, not despite Brexit but thanks to Brexit because this country will become a magnet for foreign investment,” he insisted.
Since its official departure from the EU on January 31, the UK has continued to apply European rules. It is only at the end of this transitional period, on December 31, that it will leave the single market and the customs union.
In the absence of a free trade agreement found, translated into legal text and ratified by then, trade between London and the EU will take place from January 1 under the sole rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) , synonymous with customs duties or quotas, at the risk of a new shock for economies already weakened by the coronavirus.
Barely three weeks before the final rupture, discussions between the British and Europeans continue to stumble on the same three subjects: European access to British waters, the way of settling disputes in the future agreement and the guarantees demanded in London by the EU in terms of competition in exchange for access without tariffs or quotas to its huge market.