'We are ready' Rishi Sunak says UK prepared to leave EU with or without trade deal

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Speaking to Sky News, the Chancellor said that he was confident and hopeful that a Brexit trade deal could be struck with the European Union and that the shape of the deal was clear. “There is a lot of work going on, and I think with a constructive attitude and goodwill on all sides we can get there,” Rishi Sunak said. “It’s clear what the shape of the deal looks like.”

He added: “I am hopeful that the EU will see that the vast majority of what we’re asking for are things that they’ve already agreed with other countries.

“The teams are hard at work.”

But the Chancellor also stressed the UK is fully prepared to trade with the rest of the world in a smooth and managed way regardless of any deal agreed with the EU. 

He said: “Obviously in the short term it would be preferable to have a deal, but we’ve put an enormous amount of effort and resource into preparing the country and businesses for the change in our trading relationships.

“Which is happening regardless of the exact shape of the trading arrangements that we can negotiate.

“So that’s hundreds of millions invested in improving our port infrastructure, border force officials, trade support services in Northern Ireland.”

With just five weeks left until the United Kingdom finally exits the EU’s orbit, both sides are trying to reach a trade deal that would avoid a tumultuous finale to the five-year Brexit crisis.

European Commission head, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday that the bloc was ready for the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a new trade accord despite “genuine progress” in the tortuous Brexit talks.

An official involved in the negotiations said a deal was possible, but not likely before the weekend at the earliest. An EU diplomat said it was more likely to come next week.

But the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Richard Hughes, said there is “unprecedented uncertainty” about the future.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “A lot depends on both the effectiveness of the current public health restrictions, the effectiveness of Test and Trace, and then the ultimate effectiveness and availability of the vaccine.”

Looking ahead to Brexit, Mr Hughes said they have already reduced their forecast for output by 4 percent to take account of the UK leaving the EU, with a further 2 percent “on top of the 4 percent” if there is no free trade agreement.

More to follow…



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