The Dutch prime minister has warned that the UK’s position on a deadline for trade talks with the EU risks a return to a cliff-edge no deal Brexit.
Mark Rutte added that the chances of Britain and the European Union securing a trade deal this year are only ’50-50′.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rutte said “a year is not very long”, suggesting there was not a strong likelihood of Boris Johnson fulfilling his pledge to get a deal on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
“And if the UK is really not willing to ask for an extension then we run the risk that we might get a cliff edge again,” the prime minister told Sky News.
“I don’t hope so, I won’t work against it to prevent it. But it’s still that case.”
Trade deals often take years to complete but both the UK govenment and the United States have pledged to secure a deal before the end of 2020.
However, Rutte’s comments are a sign of an ‘uphill struggle’ facing the UK as it attempts to negotiate new deals with both the EU and the US at the same time, according to Sky News economic editor Ed Conway.
The American Treasury secretary Steve Munchin warned earlier this week a deal with America hinges on the UK ditching a new tax on tech giants.