Brexit war is back: Boris Johnson tears up pledges of ‘level playing field’ with EU as he sets out vision for Canada-style trade deal despite Brussels already having rejected the idea
The UK government is publishing its aims for looming trade talks with the EU Boris Johnson is calling for a Canada-style deal and rejecting alignment with EUMichel Barnier has already dismissed the ideas and demanded concessions
What happens next in Brexit trade wrangling?
Today: The UK’s negotiating proposals will be put before Parliament, after the EU signed off its mandate for Michel Barnier on Tuesday.
Monday: Talks on the trade deal are due to start in Brussels.
They will initially focus on the schedule for discussions – which in itself will be tricky. The EU wants to talk about fishing first, but the UK says it must be considered as part of a wider package.
July: This is theoretically the last point at which the transition period can be extended – although Boris Johnson has insisted he will not contemplate any delay.
January 1: The transition period is due to end and the UK will be on new trade arrangements with the EU. This will either be the trade deal or World Trade Organisation terms.
Boris Johnson will tear up commitments to a ‘level playing field’ with the EU today as he sets out his vision for a Canda-style trade deal.
The PM is unveiling the UK’s negotiating aims as tensions ramp up again between the two sides – just weeks after Brexit legally happened.
The mandate being published by the government this morning will stress Mr Johnson’s priority to secure ‘political and economic independence’ when the ‘standstill’ transition period ends on December 31.
Ignoring the provisions in the political declaration that was sealed along with the divorce deal, the document will reject calls for the UK to obey Brussels rules and standards.
However, the looming talks are shaping up to be bruising – with the EU’s Michel Barnier already having dismissed the idea of Canada-style terms, and warning there will be no agreement unless Britain limits competition and concedes on issues such as fishing rights.
Downing Street has angrily pointed out that other trade deals hammered out by the EU did not include the kind of ‘onerous commitments’ being demanded.
Mr Barnier’s mandate, published earlier this week, called for any agreement to use Brussels’ standards as ‘a reference point’ over time.
Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) is unveiling the UK’s negotiating aims as tensions ramp up again between the two sides – just weeks after Brexit legally happened.
That suggested the UK would be expected to keep aligned with changes to the rules in future, something that would breach Mr Johnson’s red lines.
Mr Johnson signed the political declaration with the EU in 2019, which accepted there should be ‘robust commitments to ensure a level playing field’ on areas including state subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental standards.
Key sticking points in EU trade talks
Level playing field
The UK insists it wants an off-the-shelf free trade agreement, similar to that the EU struck with Canada.
This would mean shunning almost all tariffs and quotas, and potentially bolting on preferential access for financial services.
Crucially, it would not involve the UK aligning with EU rules or obeying legal edicts from the bloc’s judges.
However, Michel Barnier has said the Canada model is not appropriate as the UK is geographically closer to the EU and the competition issues are different.
He insists that there must be a ‘level playing field’ for trade, with the UK following Brussels’ standards.
The EU is determined to keep access to UK waters after December 31.
France is particularly keen to ensure that its fishermen have generous quotas when Britain leaves the EU Commons Fisheries arrangements.