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UPDATE 1-UK's Johnson doesn't want a no-deal Brexit but can live with it

Sun, 4th Oct 2020 11:32

(Adds quotes, background)

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson does not particularly wish for the Brexit transition
period to end without a new trade deal in place but believes
that Britain could live with such an outcome, he said on Sunday.

With the Dec. 31 expiry of the transition period fast
approaching, Johnson and the head of the EU's executive, Ursula
von der Leyen, agreed in a phone call on Saturday to step up
negotiations on a post-Brexit deal.

"I think it's there to be done," Johnson said during an
interview on BBC television.

"Alas, there are some difficult issues that need to be
fixed, and there's no question that the EU needs to understand
that we're utterly serious about needing to control our own laws
and our own regulations, and similarly they need to understand
that the repatriation of the UK's fisheries ... is very
important."

Asked whether he was worried about the potential impact of a
no-deal situation in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Johnson
said: "I don't want the Australian WTO-type outcome,
particularly, but we can more than live with it.

"I think the people of this country have had enough ... of
being told that this will be impossible or intolerable. I think
we can prosper mightily under those circumstances."

The government last week told importers and exporters they
would have to complete extra paperwork whether there was a deal
or not and that a lack of preparation on their part could lead
to 100 km queues of trucks.

That prompted accusations from the opposition that ministers
were setting up industry to take the blame for any chaos that
might follow a botched Brexit.

The EU says that any deal must be sealed by the end of
October, or in the first days of November at the latest, to
leave enough time for ratification by the bloc before the end of
the year.

More trade talks are due in London next week and in Brussels
the following week before the 27 national EU leaders meet over
Oct. 15-16 to assess progress. London has also said it wants
clarity by Oct. 15 on whether a deal is possible or not.

An estimated trillion euros ($1.17 trillion) of annual trade
would be at stake if they fail to reach an agreement.
($1 = 0.8537 euros)

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon
Editing by Toby Chopra and David Goodman)

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