London, Oct 15 (IANS) Ahead of a European Union (EU) summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed the “desirability” of a new trade deal with the bloc, but also his disappointment that more progress had not been made.
Johnson’s comments came during a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday evening, Downing Street said in a statement.
The leaders discussed the latest state of play of the negotiations on Britain’s future relationship with the EU, reports Xinhua news agency.
Johnson “noted the desirability of a deal, but expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks”, the statement said.
“The Prime Minister said that he looked forward to hearing the outcome of the European Council and would reflect before setting out the UK’s next steps in the light of his statement of 7 September,” it said.
Johnson said last month that a future trade deal needs to be agreed by mid-October to enable it to be approved ahead of January 1, 2021.
While Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the deal needs to be ready by the end of October.
Both sides started the lengthy post-Brexit talks in March after the UK ended its EU membership on Januart 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.
If there is no deal in place, the UK will trade with the EU on terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2021.