Boris Johnson vows UK will NOT align with EU rules to get trade deal

Boris Johnson vows UK will NOT align with EU rules to get trade deal

February 3, 2020

PM draws battle lines with EU: Boris Johnson vows Britain will NOT align with Brussels rules to get Canada-style trade deal – as bloc uses Gibraltar as leverage in talks

  • Prime Minister will tell EU leaders he wants a Canada-style free trade agreement
  • Boris Johnson will say he would rather accept trade tariffs than EU rules 
  • His speech comes as the EU will also unveil its guidelines for Brexit talks

Boris Johnson is drawing battle lines with the EU today as he vows Britain will never accept Brussels regulations as the price for a trade deal.

The PM will signal a tough approach in a keynote speech urging that European leaders honour their pledge to give the UK a Canada-style package, with zero tariffs and quotas.

But Mr Johnson will warn that the EU must not demand alignment with its rules – making clear if it does he will simply walk away from the table.

The intervention, on the first working day after Brexit finally happened on Friday night, sets the stage for months of brutal haggling over the shape of the future relationship.

Both the UK and the Brussels are due to lay out their negotiating positions later. There are claims that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has agreed to Spain’s call to get a veto over whether Gibraltar should be covered by the arrangements – something that Britain has insisted will not be agreed. 

Irish PM Leo Varadkar has also been turning up the rhetoric, after branding the UK a ‘small country’ and gloating that the EU has a stronger hand in the talks. 

Boris Johnson (pictured right in No10 on Friday) has called for a zero-tariff, zero-quota arrangement – but dismissed demands from the EU’s Michel Barnier (left) to align with their rules to get the package

The EU insists that any deal is dependent on the UK signing up to a ‘level playing field’ on regulations and rules, which would effectively stop British businesses being able to undercut those on the continent. 

But the Prime Minister will argue no other country which has a trade deal with the EU has been forced to sign up to such obligations.

In a speech to business leaders and ambassadors in London, he will say: ‘There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules.

‘The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas – better, in many respects, than those of the EU – without the compulsion of a treaty and it is vital to stress this now.’

Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, yesterday insisted the extra protections were needed as the UK is geographically closer to the EU than Canada and does a much larger volume of trade

He will add: ‘We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the EU market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation, on the example of Canada. We have made our choice: we want a free trade agreement, similar to Canada’s.’ 

In the ‘very unlikely event’ that talks do not succeed, Mr Johnson will say in his speech he will seek a much looser arrangement. ‘The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no deal’. 

The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s,’ he will insist. ‘In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper.’

Mr Johnson will say ‘our new relationship with our closest neighbours will range far beyond trade’. ‘We will seek a pragmatic agreement on security, protecting our citizens without trespassing on the autonomy of our respective legal systems,’ he will announce.

Mr Varadkar yesterday insisted the extra protections were needed as the UK is geographically closer to the EU than Canada and does a much larger volume of trade. 

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday: ‘You’re geographically part of the European continent, we share seas, we share airspace and our economies are very integrated.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said any suggestion the UK will have to follow EU rules and laws after 2021 ‘just ain’t happening’

‘One thing that we feel very strongly in the European Union is that if we’re going to have tariff-free, quota-free trade with the UK… then that needs to come with a level playing field. We would have very strong views on fair competition and state aid.’

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said any suggestion the UK will have to follow EU rules and laws after 2021 ‘just ain’t happening’. He told Marr that staying tied to EU regulations ‘obviously defeats the point of Brexit’.

Mr Johnson has vowed to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of this year so there is no need to extend the transition period beyond December.

Some EU figures have questioned whether the fast-track timetable is realistic, but former European Council president Donald Tusk yesterday said he believed it would be possible. He told Marr: ‘One year is enough to finalise our negotiations.’

Give Brussels fishing rights for 25 years? Codswallop! Britain to reject EU demands for deal that would allow foreign trawlers access to our waters until 2045

Britain is to reject EU demands for a deal on fishing that would give foreign trawlers access to our waters for 25 years.

Instead, France and other European nations will have to request access annually, with quotas negotiated each year.

The UK has some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, but British vessels land less than a third – 32 per cent – of the total catch. EU boats take 43 per cent, while the Norwegians catch 21 per cent.

At the end of the transition period in December, the country will leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which dictates how much British trawlers can catch and where. Fishermen complain they do not get a fair share of what is caught in UK waters.

The Fisheries Bill going through Parliament will end the automatic right of EU vessels to fish in British waters, with access to fisheries set to be a matter for the UK to negotiate.

Ministers see Norway as a model. It holds annual negotiations with the EU on access to waters, management of shared stocks and exchanges of quota rights. The political declaration on future relations agreed by Boris Johnson and EU leaders last year states fishing rights must be ratified by July.

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