Brexit talks in quotes: ‘Deal should be one of the easiest in human history’

Mike Bedigan, PA
·5-min read

Brexit has generated heated rhetoric on all sides. Here are some of the key quotes made during negotiations as the UK strove to make the break from the EU.

“There is no plan for no deal, because we’re going to get a great deal” – Boris Johnson, speaking in his role as Foreign Secretary, July 11 2017.

“The free trade agreement that we will have to come to with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history” – Liam Fox, then international trade secretary, July 2017

“Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. There is, I believe, a new sense of optimism now in the talks, and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week” – Prime Minister Theresa May, December 2017.

“Would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s (being) negotiated… I would have had a different attitude. I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be. I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out” – US President Donald Trump, January 2018.

“It’s highly improbable, but always possible, that the deal will come apart at the end for some wholly unpredictable reason” – David Davis, former Brexit Secretary, March 6 2018.

“It seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript” – David Davis, resigning from the position of Brexit Secretary, July 9 2018.

“I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU” – Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, resigning from the position of Brexit Secretary, November 15 2018.

“We have seen examples of societies where they dropped the vase. Look at Great Britain. The politicians and residents have forgotten what they achieved together. Now they are in chaos” – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, December 18 2018.

“It was a wee bit nebulous. There’s not a lot of detail there” – First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon commenting on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, December 19 2018.

“We’re on our own!” – Actor Jodie Whittaker, following an apparent reference to Brexit in an episode of Doctor Who on January 1 2019.

“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit” – Theresa May, after resigning as prime minister, May 24 2019.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Theresa May said it would ‘always remain a matter of deep regret’ that she was unable to secure Brexit during her time as prime minister (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“It is vital that we are prepared for a no-deal outcome if we are going to get the deal that we need. I don’t think that is where we are going to end up, I think it is a million-to-one against” – Boris Johnson, as Conservative Party leadership candidate, June 26 2019.

“Whack it in the microwave, gas mark… I’m not very good at cooking… Gas mark 4. Prick the lid. Put it in, and then we can get on… we can put this deal through Parliament” – Boris Johnson, referring to his “oven ready” Brexit deal, November 2019.

“The “oven-ready” deal will give us indigestion for years and years and years, so I’m very, very disappointed in this direction they’re taking” – Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, December 10 2019.

“Let’s get Brexit done” – Boris Johnson, after securing a landslide victory in the general election, December 2019.

“Let us celebrate tonight as we have never done before. This is the greatest moment in the modern history of our great nation” – Nigel Farage, addressing crowds seconds before the UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm on January 31 2020.

“What’s called Brexit will be a dim, distant memory – it will be far, far behind us as a country… it will be a historic event that people can barely remember” – Prime Minister Boris Johnson to a 10-year-old, January 31 2020.

“Given the latest Covid-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled. Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences” – Joint statement from Brexit negotiating teams, March 12 2020.

“I do think we need to be very, very clear, there is now a strong possibility – a strong possibility – that we will have a solution that is much more like an Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship with the EU” – Prime Minister Boris Johnson, December 10 2020.

Brexit
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on December 10 2020 that there was ‘now a strong possibility’ that a deal would not be reached (Aaron Chown/PA)

“(Boris Johnson) has been cavalier. This is a man who is cavalier with our national interest and … he is playing Russian roulette with the jobs and livelihoods of people up and down the country” – Shadow business secretary Ed Milliband, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, December 13 2020.

“It’s the moment of truth. We have very little time remaining, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in useful fashion … There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow” – EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, December 18 2020.