Brexit: Boris Johnson says a good UK-EU trade deal is ‘there to be done’

Boris Johnson has said “a good deal is there to be done” with the EU on trade – but says the bloc is currently insisting on terms which no prime minister could accept.

Mr Johnson spoke at Prime Minister’s Questions before travelling to Brussels for final talks with EU President Ursula von der Leyen, just days before the transition period ends on 31 December.

Responding to a question from his Brexiteer colleague Sir Edward Leigh, he tried to assure MPs a “good deal is still there to be done” with the EU.

But, outlining the difficulties facing the final talks, he added: “Our friends in the EU are currently insisting if they pass a new law in the future which we don’t comply, they have the automatic right to punish us.

“And they are insisting the UK should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters.

“I don’t believe those are terms any prime minister of this country should accept.”

He again insisted the UK would “prosper mightily” with or without a deal – a claim which has been disputed by economic experts including the Office for Budget Responsibility and the governor of the Bank of England.

As the deadline looms, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister had told the British people “the chances of no deal were absolutely zero” and questioned why anyone should believe what he says about Brexit.

But Mr Johnson said he had not misled the people and claimed the government “had an oven ready deal which was the Withdrawal Agreement” – not the final deal.

He added that “whatever happens from 1 January” the UK will “be able to get on” with a points-based immigration system, instituting low tax free ports, institute higher animal welfare standards, do free trade deals “and we’ll get our money back”.

Sir Keir also asked how many of the 50,000 promised customs agents would be in place on 1 January, but the prime minister did not answer directly and said the government has “invested £1 billion in getting this country ready for whatever trading relationship is on 1 January”.

Mr Johnson added that the UK will become a “magnet for overseas investment”, whether there is a deal with the EU or not.

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