Boris Johnson has said he wants to ‘caution everybody’ because getting a new deal with the EU is not going to be a ‘cinch’.
After the prime minister’s meetings with key EU leaders elicited almost no movement from the continental side, Boris Johnson has begun lowering expectations, telling Channel 4 News: “I’m just telling people not to hold their breath,” because any change is likely to happen “in the final furlong”.
Although Johnson claims that alternative arrangements are possible, French president Emmanuel Macron has said that the Irish backstop is essential to the agreement.
MORE: Irish backstop is “indispensable”, Emmanuel Macron tells Boris JohnsonDespite having made almost no progress in his meetings, he said the “mood music” had been very good.
He joins MP Tobias Ellwood, in pinning hopes on a change of tone. The former minister suggested on BBC Newsnight that the “body language” had changed and that this was a cause for optimism.
'I'm just telling people not to hold their breath.'— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) August 23, 2019
Boris Johnson warns voters 'they shouldn't necessarily get their hopes up' for a Brexit deal, adding 'this is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard'. pic.twitter.com/TFmptTU4Dh
READ: Tory MP optimistic about Boris Johnson getting a Brexit deal because of ‘body language’The prime minister continued by saying that although the EU knows the UK wants a deal, the 27 is “very, very hard over against it” and their negotiations go “on and on and on”.
“But I want to caution everybody, ok,” he continued. “This is not going to be a cinch. This is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard to get this thing done. We have to have an arrangement that allows the whole UK to come out of the EU, and to have frictionless trade at the border in Northern Ireland.
“There are lots of ways we can make sure that happens, but to persuade our EU friends and partners, who are very, very hard over against it, will take some time.
“And I’m afraid we will have to prepare to come out without an agreement, and we can do that. We’re very confident that we will be ok because we have all sorts of preparations in place.
“So what I am saying to you is, yes we’re making progress, but I’m just telling people not to hold their breath, because I’ve seen the way these Brussel negotiations work, and they go on and on and on. And here’s the thing, they go on and on, and it’s always on the steps of the court, as it were, that the deal is done.”
He finished by telling people not to “get their hopes up too soon”.
Boris Johnson has been accused by anti-Brexit campaigners of making it impossible for the EU to agree to a withdrawal deal, calling his negotations a “sham”.