Sammy Wilson says he has “absolutely no doubt” that a trade deal will be struck between the UK and the EU – but believes it will likely not happen until after Brexit.
The DUP Brexit spokesperson added that while he feels a deal is “entirely doable” prior to the UK’s scheduled exit date of October 31, he said it was now looking less and less likely due to the “intransigence” of Brussels and the actions of Remainers .
Mr Wilson was speaking to the News Letter today just hours before it emerged that Boris Johnson will ask the Queen to suspend Parliament in September – meaning MPs are unlikely to have time to pass any laws to block a no-deal scenario.
The prime minister has pledged that the UK will leave the EU at the end of October “do or die” – even if it means walking away without a deal.
While Mr Wilson said the Government and its DUP allies want a deal prior to the UK leaving the bloc, he added: ”When I listen to the other side and see the way they have dug their heels in, it makes me think there is now less of a chance we will get it done by that date.
“But I have no absolutely doubt that once we get past October 31 and we are out, Brussels will be rushing to find a way to accommodate trade between the UK and the EU.
“They will fight tooth and nail to try and keep us in, but once we are out common sense will prevail.
“They have a trade surplus of £82 billion a year with us, they need access to our markets, so I have no doubt that after they have played their last card, they will suddenly find that a trade deal is doable.
“To me a deal is doable now, but it seems the politics will stop it happening before October 31. Once there is no more politics to be engaged in because we are out, at that stage you will find most of the countries in Europe will come to their senses and seek to have normal relations with the UK.”
Mr Wilson also hit back at criticism levelled at his party by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who branded the DUP “embarrassing” for not backing a cross-party bid at Westminster to stop a no-deal Brexit.
The East Antrim MP said: “Actually, the DUP are the party that is most likely to avoid a no-deal outcome. By insisting that no-deal remains an option, it will produce the leverage that eventually will cause the EU to see some sense. The only hope of a deal is to keep no-deal on the table.”