British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, confirmed at the helm of the UK Government with an overwhelming parliamentary majority, on Tuesday put pressure on Brussels to conclude a post-Brexit trade agreement by late 2020.
Reviving fears of a no-deal harmful to the British economy, Johnson announced plans to ban any extension beyond 2020 of the transition period aimed at giving the two sides time to discuss future ties after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020.
Johnson’s election programme explicitly ruled out any extension of the transition period, his spokesman said on Tuesday after the first post-election cabinet meeting. He stressed that the new government was determined to deliver on its promises to the British people.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was held in a euphoric atmosphere, after last Thursday’s early elections which handed the Tories a historic victory, with 365 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.
The leader of Britain’s Conservatives commented at the meeting that they should not be embarrassed to say “we are a government of the people” after wresting a good number of seats from Labour in its traditional strongholds in the north and northeast of the country.
While the first months of his previous government may have seemed “frenzied”, Johnson told his ministers they “haven’t seen anything yet.”
The same atmosphere reigned in Parliament, where Johnson reiterated his campaign mantra, “We’ll get Brexit done,” chorused by the Conservative members of the House, elated by the election win.
Johnson plans to present the Brexit implementing law in parliament on Friday, including the late-2020 deadline for the negotiations with Brussels.
Speaking in the European Parliament, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier responded that the EU would do the utmost to conclude the trade accord with London by the end of 2020.
For her part, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed in a telephone conversation with Johnson to collaborate energetically, according to Johnson’s spokesman, who said negotiations would be launched “as soon as possible” after Brexit.
The new deadline coupled with the possibility of a no-deal immediately caused the pound to fall, after strengthening for days.