UK, EU Can Iron Out Free Trade Deal by The End of 2020

Published February 2nd, 2020 - 11:05 GMT
Donald Tusk (Twitter)
Donald Tusk (Twitter)
Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Mr Tusk said: 'There is no desire for punishment.

Boris Johnson received a boost for his Brexit plans today as the former European Council president said Britain and the EU can agree a free trade deal by the end of the year.

Donald Tusk said that a year was enough time to 'finalise our negotiations' after the PM flatly ruled out extending talks past December this year.

But the former Polish PM Mr Tusk suggested the UK would be focused on 'damage control' in the talks and warned Downing Street against planned divergence from continental rules.

In a further tweak of the nose of No 10 he also suggested that Brussels would be keen on an independent Scotland seeking EU membership, remarks that won approval from the SNP.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Mr Tusk said: 'There is no desire for punishment.

'For Brexit, and the negotiations after Brexit, this is a process of only damage control.

'The problem is, objectively, that there will be some losses and damages, no doubt, on both sides - but not as an intentional ''game''.'

The Polish politician said he did not think Britain would return to the European Union in his lifetime and called for Remain voters 'not to dream about another referendum'.

His remarks came after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said following EU rules after 2021 'just ain't happening'.

Speaking to the BBC, the Cabinet minister said: 'We are entering into these negotiations with a spirit of goodwill.

'But we are just not doing that other stuff. The legislative alignment, it just ain't happening.' 

Mr Tusk, who stood down as European Council president last December, said that Brussels felt 'empathy' towards an independent Scotland rejoining the EU.

He added: 'Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.' 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a renewed attempt to win a referendum on independence that would allow the country, which oveerwhelmingly voted for Remain, to rejoin the EU.

An opinion poll last week found a majority of support for splitting up the UK for the first time since 2015.

The SNP's foreign affairs spokesman Alyn Smith said: 'What senior Europeans are saying in public is what they have been saying in private for some time.

'Scotland has been taken out of the EU against our will by a Tory government with no mandate here - but Scotland remains a European country with European values, and we can protect our place at the heart of Europe with independence.'

But Mr Raab hit out at the comments, telling the BBC: I think it was frankly rather un-European and rather irresponsible, given the secessionist tendencies in Spain, in France, in Italy.

'I’m not sure that European leaders, let alone here in the UK would actually welcome that kind of language.'

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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