With rumors about the EU potentially pushing for another extension to Brexit talks emerging in the British press, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly delivered an ultimatum to the EU and its top negotiatiors that if there's no final Brexit trade deal in place by the European Council meeting on Oct. 15, then Britain will simply move ahead with plans to exit the transition period with a trading arrangement on "Australian" (read: bare bones WTO) terms.
This latest threat was first reported by the Telegraph, and previews a statement that Johnson will reportedly deliver on Monday, ahead of the beginning of the eighth round of talks, which is set to start on Tuesday in London.
Since they started in February, talks have reportedly gone nowhere since they started in February as the EU's demands re: Britain and the EU now have just five weeks to strike a trade deal, Boris Johnson will warn on Monday as he rules out extending negotiations beyond the middle of next month.
The PM is reportedly expected to declare that there's simply "no sense" in allowing talks to continue past the October European Council meeting (Oct. 15-16), which is seen as a key opportunity for the EU to finalize the agreement with all of its member states, which would avoid the possibility of a laborious last-minute sprint, or another politically unpalatable extension, something Johnson has insisted he cannot - and will not - tolerate.
Johnson has tasked Michael Gove, a senior cabinet official and one-time rival for the Tory leadership and prime minister's seat, with preparing the government for a 'no deal' exit, and the editors of the Telegraph have insisted that the government's preparations have continued throughout the pandemic, and that Johnson believes the UK will be ready to keep all four of its constituent nations together, and outside of the EU, if things don't pan out.
One strategy that the Tories are embracing to ensure a clean break if a long-term trade deal can't be reached is to pass a law that would effectively invalidate Britain's commitments under the hated "Irish Backstop". The FT, which first reported the news, cited several officials from the EU and UK side who insisted that effectively going back on Britain's word would sabotage the Brexit talks, effectively ensuring that the UK comes crashing out of the EU at the end of the year.
But what a difference a year makes. If the UK slides out of the EU at the end of the year, there's little critics can say that hasn't already been said, and ignored, by the British people, who effectively doubled down on their commitment to leave the EU when they reelected the conservatives during a snap vote late last year.