Boris Johnson has said he does not want a no-deal Brexit, but that the UK would “more than live with it” if need be.
Johnson said today that a deal “was there to be done”, just a day after the UK and EU agreed to extend negotiations a further two weeks, but that gaps remain between the two sides.
The UK and EU agreed to extend negotiations until the end of this month with a view to having a trade deal implemented by the time the UK leaves the post-Brexit transition period on 31 December.
The issues of state subsidies for UK businesses and EU fishing access to UK waters are the two larges barriers to a deal.
When asked about the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU customs union and single market on 31 December, Johnson told the BBC: “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.”
He added: “I had a good conversation with [EU Commission President] Urusula von der Leyen and she and I both issued a statement after that saying we thought there was every prospect of getting a deal.”
The City of London’s future access to European markets is still uncertain as the EU has not yet granted the financial services sector equivalence.
Brussels only allows non-EU countries to have access to their financial markets if their regulations are closely aligned.
Catherine McGuinness, chair of the City of London Corporation’s policy and resources committee, told the Sunday Times: “We realise that financial services have been left to one side and that in itself is very disappointing.
“Leaving in an acrimonious way, without a sensible deal, is in nobody’s interest”.
Johnson also said things will “continue to be bumpy through to Christmas” in the UK as a second wave of Covid-19 takes hold of the country.
Johnson said that there was “hope” that the virus could be beaten, while also underlining about the “balance” of interests between public health and the economy.
The UK recorded more than 12,000 cases on Saturday in what was the largest daily figure in months.
Johnson said: “We will get through this and we will get through this very well and it’s up to government to show we have the tools, the imagination and creativity to get through this.
“Do I think things can be significantly different by Christmas? I do and we are working flat out to achieve that.”