UK PM Johnson says on Brexit trade talks: we're very far apart

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that Britain and the European Union remained very far apart on key issues in Brexit trade talks so people should be prepared for a no-deal on Dec. 31.

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to attend a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured) in Brussels, Belgium December 9, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Below are quotes from Johnson’s televised statement:

“I’m afraid we’re still very far apart on some key things, but where there is life there’s hope, we’re going to keep talking to see what we can do, the UK certainly won’t be walking away from the talks.”

“I’ve got to repeat the most likely thing now is of course that we have to get ready for WTO-terms, Australia terms.”

“We are always happy to talk and to make progress where we can, I do think as I say, there is a deal to be done if our partners want to do it, but we remain very far apart on these key issues.”

“I repeated my offer, which is, if it’s necessary to talk to other capitals, then I’m very happy to do that. The Commission is very determined to keep the negotiations on the way that they have been done, between us and the Commission, and that’s fine.”

“If Ursula is optimistic, then that’s great. As far as I can see there are some serious, very very difficult issues that currently separate the UK from the EU.

“The best thing to do now, for everybody, is to follow up all the work that has been done over the last four and half years, colossal amount of preparation at our ports, everywhere across the UK, get ready to trade on WTO terms.

“There is a clarity and a simplicity in that approach that has it’s own advantages. It is not where we wanted to get to but if we have to end up with that solution, the UK is more than prepared.”

“I think that the UK should continue to try ... We’re going to continue to try. And we’re going to try with all our hearts and be as creative as we possibly can but what we can’t do is compromise on that fundamental nature of what Brexit is all about, which is us being able to control our laws, control our fisheries.

“It’s very, very simple, I think our friends get it and ... we remain willing to talk and continue to do so, but in the meantime let’s get ready for the WTO option.”

Reporting by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge