The Prime Minister said the UK would not yet walk away from talks with the EU, despite being “very far apart” on key issues. He spoke to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen today and they agreed to extend the deadline for negotiations to continue. But Mr Johnson implied a final no deal decision was just days away. He said: “When we went out [to Brussels] on Wednesday the hope was that we going to be able to finish things off today if there was a deal to be done.
“As things stand, I’m afraid we’re still very far apart on some key things.
“But where there’s light, there’s hope. We’re going to keep on talking to see what we can do.
“The UK certainly won’t be walking away from the talks. I think people can expect us to go the extra mile.
“The Commission are very determined to keep the negotiations on the way that we’ve been done.
“I’ve got to repeat that the most likely thing now is of course that we have to get ready for WTO terms.
“Don’t forget everybody, we’ve made huge preparations for this. We’ve now been at this for four and a half years.
“We’ve got ready and the UK will do very, very well.”
Asked if no deal is slightly less likely, he said: “Look, if Ursula is optimistic then that is great but as far as I can see there are some serious and very, very difficult issues that currently separate the UK from the EU and the best thing to do now for everybody is to follow up all the work that has been done over the last four-and-a-half years, a colossal amount of preparation at our ports, everywhere across the UK, get ready to trade on WTO terms.
Without a deal, after January 1 the public will face more than £3 billion in food tariffs and higher prices throughout 2021, the trade body said, adding that the uncertainty is making it harder for businesses to prepare.
Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers would have no choice but to pass on some of these additional costs to their customers, who would see higher prices filter through during 2021.
“Moreover, new checks and red tape that will apply from January 1 will create an additional burden for retailers and their customers.
“Retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for all eventualities, increasing the stock of tins, toilet rolls and other longer life products so there will be sufficient supply of essential products.
“While no amount of preparation by retailers can entirely prevent disruption, there is no need for the public to buy more food than usual as the main impact will be on imported fresh produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, which cannot be stored for long periods by either retailers or consumers.”