Boris Johnson ruled out he will request an extension to the Brexit transition period as he insisted a new trade agreement with the European Union will be in place by December 2020. The Prime Minister secured the passage of his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in December after snatching an 80-strong majority in Parliament and is now hoping to take Britain out of the EU on January 31, 2020. But economist Carsten Brzeski warned Mr Johnson he could face further obstacles to his unprecedented goals: “Brexit is going to continue.
“The thing is we will now start the negotiations about the future trade agreement and the deadline there is the end of 2020.
“I don’t think there’s a single trade agreement that has been negotiated within less than 11 months so there’s the extreme chance they will not finish the negotiations.”
Speaking to Bloomberg, Mr Brzeski insisted the Prime Minister’s intransigence towards the possibility of another extension could “quickly” put a hard Brexit back on the table.
A hard Brexit would see all current trade agreements with EU countries cease to be in effect, with Britain reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on tariffs and duties.
He continued: “This idea of could there be a disorderly Brexit could very quickly go back on the table.
“I think hard Brexit is still a possibility because Boris Johnson has already said that he actually wants to rule out there will be another extension of these trade negotiations.
“The end of 2020 would be a very hard deadline for Brexit and I don’t see how they will manage to make a trade deal by then.”
Asked about his expectations for the new year, the German economist added: “Either there will be an extension of the deadline or we will have a disorderly Brexit.”
Mr Johnson’s commitment to concluding the negotiations in 2020 spurred Le Temps reporter Richard Werly to suggest the Prime Minister could bring out his “nasty” side to secure an agreement.
Speaking to France 24, Mr Werly said: “I’m afraid that in 2020, as far as the European Union is concerned, we are going to discover a nasty Boris Johnson.
“Until now he was the buffoon or the populist but he is going to become nasty on the trade issue – it isn’t going to be easy for the EU to negotiate that trade deal.
“To tell the truth, the EU needs a trade deal as much as the UK. We’ve been told in 2019, with a large part of the truth, the UK was in a weaker position because a Brexit without an agreement would have been difficult for the British economy, now it’s a bit different.”
The Prime Minister will hold crunch talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Downing Street next week.
Mr Johnson will sit down with his Brussels counterpart on January 8 for bilateral talks, just weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.
It is likely the two leaders will attempt to steal an early march on the trade negotiations, which the Prime Minister wants to have wrapped up by the end of 2020.
Ms von der Leyen has expressed doubt that the UK and EU can secure a comprehensive trade pact in the 11-month timetable set by the Prime Minister.