British PM sets Oct 15 as deadline

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he wants a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU) by an October 15 deadline, warning that a failure could mean the country would end its membership with the bloc without a deal.

“There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European council on October 15 if it’s going to be in force by the end of the year…

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us,” the Prime Minister said on Monday in a Downing Street statement.

The UK would then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s, Xinhua news aency quoted Johnson as saying.

EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is scheduled to start talks  on Tuesday with his British counterpart David Frost.

With Brussels also saying a future deal must be drawn up by October to enable it to be ratified by the 27 EU member states, time is running out for both sides.

Britain’s national newspapers on Monday turned the “Brexit battle of words” into front page news.

Both the Times and the Daily Express headlined Johnson’s message that a no-deal could be a good outcome for Britain.

Overshadowing the eighth round of talks between both sides was the confirmation that Johnson’s government will publish Wednesday details of an amended bill that will have implications on trade and border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the neighbouring Ireland.

Downing Street described the proposed amended bill as a stand-by arrangement if trade talks with the EU break down.

At a briefing for political journalists Monday, Downing Street said the move was to clarify the Brexit withdrawal agreement signed by Johnson in January.

The government claims, according to the Guardian newspaper, were that it would not amount to overriding the agreement, but new proposals would go beyond what was set out the Northern Ireland protocol.

Meanwhile, there was widespread criticism of the planned move from Dublin, the Scottish government and the main opposition Labour Party, local media reported.

The UK ended its membership of the EU on January 31, but is sticking with the EU’s rules under a transitional arrangement that is scheduled to end on December 31.

If no deal is in place, the UK and the EU will return to trade under World Trade Organization rules.