Boris Johnson 'Jokes About Roulette' During Brexit Call With Business Leaders

Arj Singh
·2-min read

Boris Johnson has delivered his latest assessment on the stalled Brexit negotiations, telling business leaders in French: “Rien ne va plus,” which means “no more bets” in a game of roulette.

The prime minister also insisted that the UK would prosper outside the EU with or without a trade deal, a source on the phone call with industry told HuffPost UK.

But Johnson stressed that, while companies have been “terribly busy with Covid”, they must now get on and prepare for the end of the Brexit transition on December 31.

Michael Gove, who appeared alongside Johnson on the 21-minute call, meanwhile tried to reassure those present by saying Brexit was like moving house – initially expensive but with long-term benefits.

The Tuesday afternoon call came after the PM on Friday said the UK must prepare for the transition to end without a Brexit trade deal, and with a default to World Trade Organisation terms for trading with the EU – widely predicted to be the most economically damaging outcome.

One industry source said the mood among leaders on the call was “disappointment” as they wanted “a bit more certainty on how it would play out if we are to leave without a deal”.

They wanted to see that Johnson and Gove understood the difficulties and specifics of what was being planned and “some sense of the needs of businesses”, the source said.

And they also bemoaned the fact that the questions seemed pre-selected as there was no mechanism for industry leaders to jump in with a query.

Gove did seem open to demands led by the CBI lobbying group for a business taskforce to help companies prepare.

And he promised to look at the introduction of “transition vouchers” – cash payments to help firms prepare for the potentially huge change in trading terms from January 1, the source said.

Ireland has operated a similar scheme, giving firms 9,000-euro grants to help them get ready for new trading terms with the UK.

The call came as the UK chief negotiator Lord David...

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