【 International News 】 Brexit: Boris Johnson asks Britons to 'get ready' for no deal with EU

17 October 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that the UK was ready to walk away from post-Brexit trade talks with a "no-deal" unless the European Union shifted its position.

He accused the EU of failing to negotiate seriously and said Britain should "get ready" to operate on stripped-down World Trade Organization rules from January, "unless there is a fundamental change of approach" from Brussels.

"I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia's based on simple principles of global free trade," Johnson said, adding he was very disappointed to the comments made by the EU.

"Unless there is a fundamental change of approach, we're going to go for the Australia solution. And we should do it with great confidence," he said.

"It's becoming clear the EU don't want to do the type of Canada deal that we originally asked for. It does seem curious that after 45 years of our membership they can offer Canada terms they won't offer us."

At what was supposed to be the "Brexit summit" on Thursday, EU leaders delivered an ultimatum which demanded the UK to compromise on fair trade rules to unblock the stalled post-Brexit negotiations or see a rupture of ties with the bloc from January 1.

A tumultuous "no deal" finale to the UK's five-year Brexit crisis would sow chaos through the delicate supply chains that stretch across the UK, the EU and beyond just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Responding to the warning issued at an EU summit, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said previously that "we are all disappointed and surprised by the outcome of the European Council".

"We've been told that it must be the UK that makes all of the compromises in days ahead. That can't be right in negotiations," he told Sky News television. "There's a deal to be done, but there needs to be flexibility on both sides, energy and goodwill and political will on both sides."

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin said EU leaders had given Barnier "the necessary flexibility to continue with the negotiations ... to ensure a comprehensive fair and free trade deal".

"That's how we would like to see things evolve from now and in the future ... to bring this to a conclusion," he told reporters in Brussels.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday European negotiators will be in London next week to pursue post-Brexit talks. "As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations," von der Leyen said in a tweet. A European source said the UK had accepted to pursue talks.

The insistence of France and other northern EU fishing nations on maintaining access to British waters has been another key stumbling block in the talks so far. Johnson had set the summit as a deadline for a deal, but is under pressure after fresh warnings that British companies are nowhere near ready for the consequences of a cliff-edge divorce when a post-Brexit transition periods ends on December 31.

The UK wants to reassert sovereignty over its waters and refuse EU legal oversight over any deal - insisting it wants a trade deal of the kind the EU has signed with Canada. Brussels in turn stresses that Britain's economy is far more integrated with the EU's than Canada's, and that its single market must be protected from British backsliding.

Ref - CGTN