Boris Johnson says UK could walk away from Brexit talks within weeks if deal not reached

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in remarks released ahead of an address Monday that the country will exit the European Union (EU) without a deal if EU negotiators and his government cannot reach a deal for a free trade agreement before Oct. 15.

The Associated Press reported that Johnson’s office released remarks Sunday urging EU negotiators to “rethink their current positions,” while his top negotiator said the country would not budge on demands it feels the body is not making of other nations with which the EU has trade agreements.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” Johnson said of the EU summit scheduled for mid-October.

His comments came the same day his top negotiator, David Frost, told a British tabloid that the U.K. wouldn’t “accept level playing field provisions that lock us in to the way the EU do things,” according to the AP.

The U.K. and EU have been negotiating the specifics of a free trade agreement for months after the U.K. exited the body’s political structure at the beginning of 2020. The economic relationship currently held in place by an 11-month transition period is set to end on Dec. 31, after which the U.K. will leave the EU’s single market and customs union.

Leaving without a deal could have dire implications for the U.K.’s economy, which could be affected by major backups at trading ports due to the changes brought on by Brexit, as well as the U.K.’s border with Ireland, which was to remain open under terms dictated by an agreement between the EU and U.K. last year.

“This would be a very unwise way to proceed,” Ireland’s minister of foreign affairs said Sunday.

This would be a very unwise way to proceed. #Brexit .

— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) September 6, 2020