BORIS JOHNSON will succeed in striking a post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU by the end of the year, an ex-MEP has predicted.
Former Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips warned the UK will have to pay more into the EUs budget if the transition period is extended, adding that another eurozone crisis could be looming. It comes after calls from Remainers to push back the December 2020 deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Phillips said: “The mood coming out of Downing Street is not to extend.
“One reason would be having to pay into the EU budget.
“It also puts us at risk of bailing out the euro again. We are looking at a massive debt crisis coming up in the eurozone.”
On those calling for an extension, the former MEP said: “Its the same people who essentially are scared of Brexit and have been from day one.
“The Remainer school of thought will be this isnt the time to tear up the status quo.”
And Ms Phillips insisted that negotiations do not need to be face-to-face.
She said: “Arguably its nice to have a serious conversation face-to-face.
“But I cant see anything that cant be done. You dont need to be face-to-face.
“Through the gift of modern technology people can link up and all be part of the conversation.
“This can be done and it has to be done.”
The UK is in a transition period with the EU until December 31 2020, during which time Britain follows the blocs rules but has no say.
The Prime Minister, who is recovering from coronavirus, has repeatedly ruled out pushing back the deadline.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the transition period can be extended for up to two years if a request is made before June 30.
In March, the UK and the EU scrapped face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit deal due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
But negotiations have been continuing remotely and the latest round took place this week via video conference.
Speaking on Monday, a Downing Street spokesman said: “This week we expect further constructive talks with the aim of making progress ahead of June, building on the talks to date which have identified the major areas where we agree and disagree.
“The next two rounds are due to take place in the weeks starting May 11 and June 1.”
It comes ahead of a further meeting in June to review the progress that has been made.
The EUs chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday the “clock was ticking”.
Mr Barnier said: “The UK has affirmed once again this week its wish to make tangible progress between now and June and we’re on the same wavelength on this and we respect the same timetable.
“That means that we need genuine progress by June if, at the end of this year, we want to strike an agreement which is commensurate to the level of our economic interdependence and geographical proximity.”