Downing Street accused of ‘rushing’ Brexit talks after saying a deal is possible by the end of summer

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA. - Credit: PA

Downing Street has said a Brexit deal is 'achievable' by the end of summer, leading to accusations it is rushing to get a conclusion.

No 10 said that a new, intensified timeline for negotiations could mean a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is concluded by autumn.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to meet with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and other Brussels chiefs in a bid to revive talks at the end of June. It is expected those discussions will last five weeks.

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'You can expect the prime minister to welcome the fact that the European Commission president has agreed to an intensified timetable for FTA negotiations in July and also expect the prime minister to urge renewed energy and commitment to reach an agreement by the end of the summer,' the prime minister's spokesperson said.

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'The high-level meeting was always envisaged as a moment to push the negotiations forward.'

Johnson is expected to call for a swift end to talks, providing the public and business with certainty on the way forward by the autumn at the latest.

'We now need to get this resolved and deliver certainty for businesses at home and in the EU as soon as possible,' the spokesperson said.

'We are looking to agree a high quality FTA based on the agreements the EU has already reached with other countries, but whatever happens we will be ready for January 1 when we will take back control of our laws, border and money.'

Earlier this month, the latest round of Brexit negotiations ended in stalemate after both sides failed to reach an agreement on areas such as the level playing field, fisheries, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

It has led to accusations that Johnson is rushing talks, with Best for Britain chief Naomi Smith saying the government risked making 'serious errors'.

She said: 'Rushing these negotiations is a serious folly, especially during a global pandemic.

'The public will be astonished at the government's insistence on intensifying these talks, right at the moment it should be intensifying efforts to reopen schools and end this lockdown safely.

'By trying to rush both processes at once, the government risks making huge errors on both. Serious errors have already been made in the handling of coronavirus.

'Our fear is that more mistakes will be made as a result of this decision.'

MORE: Opposition parties push for new vote to extend Brexit transition period

In other developments, the EU has begun preparations for no-deal Brexit, a French former Europe minister has said.

MEP Nathalie Loiseau told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We are ready either for an agreement or for a no-deal and we are getting prepared more actively to a no-deal considering the circumstances.

'We believe it is possible to have an agreement - it has to be ready in October so that parliaments on both sides can ratify it.

'We believe it is possible because we have the political declaration which we negotiated together, signed together and should respect together - so, yes, the framework is here.'

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