British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the country to prepare for a no-deal Brexit and has given its strongest signal yet that trade talks with the European Union will not continue.
Mr Johnson on Friday criticized the EU for not taking the negotiations seriously and said he had to pass judgment on the likely outcome and prepare us all.
I concluded that we should prepare for January 1 with arrangements that are more Australia-like and based on simple principles of global free trade, he said. Now is the time for our businesses to prepare, for carriers to prepare, and for travelers to prepare.
Mr Johnson did not rule out a return to the negotiating table, but said it was up to the EU to change its approach. As far as I know, they have abandoned the idea of a free trade agreement. There does not appear to be any progress coming from Brussels, he said.
So what they were saying to them was: come here, come to us, if there is a fundamental change in approach. Otherwise, we were more than happy to talk about the practicalities of social security issues, road transport, etc. But unless there was a fundamental change in approach, we were going to go for the Australian solution.
The EU appeared to ignore Mr Johnsons’ comments and suggested that its negotiators were ready to resume talks. As planned, our negotiating team will travel to London next week to step up these negotiations, said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, which is the administrative body of the EU.
Britain officially left the EU last January, but the country has remained inside the single block market for a transition period set to expire on December 31. The two sides were supposed to use the transition to negotiate a trade deal and Mr Johnson had been pushing for a deal building on the comprehensive agreement between Canada and the EU.
However, the Prime Minister has grown frustrated in recent weeks over what he believed to be a dragging foot from the EU. The EU in turn accused the UK of failing to negotiate in good faith and threatening to remove parts of a treaty the two sides signed last year to ensure unfettered trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
At a summit this week in Brussels, EU leaders expressed concern over the lack of progress on key issues of fishing rights and state aid. They called on the UK to take the necessary steps to make a deal possible.
We are united and determined to reach an agreement but not at any cost, said Charles Michel, President of the Council of the EU, which represents the leaders.
British trade negotiator David Frost said on Thursday he was disappointed with the tone of the EU’s statement. He added that he was also surprised by the suggestion that in order to get a deal all future measures must come from the UK. This is an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation.
Mr Johnson reiterated that frustration on Friday. EU leaders want to be able to continue to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country, he said.
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