Boris Johnson has said the conclusion of a Brexit trade deal is “looking very, very difficult at the moment” as he prepares for a make-or-break visit to Brussels.
The prime minister spoke to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the phone on Monday, in which the pair agreed there were still “significant differences” on key issues.
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen are planning to meet in person in Brussels “in the coming days”, with the hope they can push a deal over the line despite months of deadlock.
However, during a visit to an NHS site on Tuesday as the first COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out across the UK, the prime minister issued a warning that an agreement might not be struck.
“You’ve got to be optimistic, you’ve got to believe there’s the power of sweet reason to get this thing over the line,” he said.
“But I’ve got to tell you it’s looking very, very difficult at the moment.
“We’ll do our level best, but I’ve would just say to everybody – be in good cheer, there are great options ahead for our country on any view.
“But the key thing is, on 1 January, whatever happens there’s going to be change and people need to get ready for that change.”
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