Boris Johnson says it’s time to “get ready” for the prospect of no free trade deal with the EU on 1 January.
The prime minister claimed Brussels had “abandoned” the ambition but insisted “we always knew there would be change” next year once the tradition period ends “whatever type of relationship we had”.
Speaking from Downing Street after an EU summit both sides said was the deadline for hammering out a trade deal, Mr Johnson said it looked like the country was heading for what he called “the Australian solution”.
He suggested he is not completely walking away from negotiations, adding: “What we’re saying to them is come here, come to us, if there’s some fundamental change of approach.”
The UK left the EU on 31 January this year.
After that the country entered a transition period, following many of the same rules meaning there was no change to trade and tariffs or things like freedom of movement.
Negotiators have since been trying to hammer out a trade deal to come into force when that runs out at the end of December.
But Mr Johnson said in a dramatic intervention that “there doesn’t seem to be any progress coming from Brussels”.
He told businesses and hauliers to “get ready” for there to be no free trade deal.
And he urged people to “embrace the alternative” with “high hearts”, vowing the UK will “prosper mightily”.
The pound fell by a cent against the dollar immediately following Mr Johnson’s statement, but quickly recovered to trade at just under $1.29.