Speaking on Brexitcast, Laura Kuenssberg claimed the mood at Westminster is very similar to that in Brussels after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen claimed it would be impossible to agree on every aspect of the post-Brexit trade deal by the end of 2020. The BBC editor claimed Whitehall officials are excogitating ways to ensure Boris Johnson will look to have kept the promise of a trade deal by the end of the year, whilst leaving the final details of the agreement until after the promised deadline.
She said: “I think there are a lot of clues from her and also clues on the British side that how this is likely to play out – this is the expectation around Whitehall – is that basically it is very likely to be what Ursula von der Leyen described as ‘priorities’.
“There will be different layers of agreement and I know already that in Whitehall there have been officials talking about basically how do you get something by the end of year.
“So that you can say you’ve met the promise and some bits of the deal will be done but then there will be layers of agreement.
“What was described to me today as ‘how do you sequence layers of agreement, how do you choreograph it’ so that the political promise can be kept, the deal can be done but with other bits to be tied up.”
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The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was approved by the House of Commons on Thursday, with MPs voting 330 to 231 in favour of moving the bill to the upper house.
It will now be debated there next week in the next crucial stage as Mr Johnson vows to meet his general election pledge to British voters to “get Brexit done” by January 31.
But Mr Johnson’s problems may lie further away from the UK now, with several EU bureaucrats – including Guy Verhofstadt – who is set to launch one last desperate bid to wreck Brexit with a demand for Brussels to leverage market access in order to maintain freedom of movement between the UK and EU.
Several EU leaders – including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – have warned Mr Johnson a full trade deal cannot be completed by his intended target of December 2020 unless Brexit is delayed again.
Speaking at the London School of Economics, where she previously studied, the president of the European Commission said said the UK and EU will still have an “unbreakable” after Brexit.
But Ms von der Leyen added the UK will have to accept compromises over leaving the EU at the end of this month.
She said in her speech: “Our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before.
“It will not be as close as before because with every choice comes a consequence. With every decision, comes a trade-off.
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“Without the free movement of people, you cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services.
“Without a level playing field on environment, labour and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.
“The more divergence there is, the more distant the partnership will be.”
Ms von der Leyen added the EU may have to “prioritise” different aspects of a deal.
She said: “Without an extension of transition period beyond 2020 you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our partnership.
“We will have to prioritise.”