LONDON — Boris Johnson said Tuesday it is “epically likely” the U.K. will strike a comprehensive trade deal with the European Union by the end of the year.
In his first major television interview since becoming prime minister, Johnson said he was “very, very, very confident” the U.K. would strike a deal, but added: “This is not about a deal, this is about building the great new partnership, and from January 31 what we’re going to do is start working with our friends and partners around the world, not just with the EU.”
But he acknowledged to the BBC that a deal with the EU might not be done, saying: “You always have to budget for complete failure of common sense.”
Johnson, who led the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, said that Brexit was “one of my least favorite subjects, because we need to move on.”
Asked about a campaign to have Big Ben — the iconic great bell the the Palace of Westminster’s clock tower — to ring out to mark Britain’s departure from the EU at the end of the month, Johnson said the government was looking into it.
The clock is currently being refurbished and Johnson said it would cost £500,000 to “restore the clapper” for the bell to ring on January 31 and he was looking at a way to raise funds.