Johnson Won’t ‘Die in a Ditch’ Over Brexit Timeline, Hogan Says


(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is likely to drop its opposition to extending the Brexit transition period beyond 2020, European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Hogan said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said he’d rather “die in a ditch” than extend an earlier deadline of Oct. 31 to exit the bloc -- before doing just that.

“I don’t believe Prime Minister Johnson will die in the ditch over the timeline for the future relationship either,” Hogan said.

Johnson Won’t ‘Die in a Ditch’ Over Brexit Timeline, Hogan Says

Johnson’s Conservatives swept to victory in this month’s general election, campaigning on a promise to “get Brexit done.” Legislation to deliver Britain’s EU departure on Jan. 31 has already passed its first parliamentary hurdle and will be debated again in the new year.

The bill includes a provision that outlaws extending a planned transition period beyond the end of 2020, with Johnson saying he’ll be able to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with the bloc before then.

The Irish commissioner, who will play a pivotal role in talks on the future relationship between the EU and U.K., said the ban on any extension was “very odd,” suggesting it may have been a political stunt. He said the U.K. has yet to fully grasp the implications of exiting the bloc, and he remained baffled by the decision.

“Why trade a Rolls Royce for a second-hand saloon?” he told the newspaper.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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