Boris Johnson warns UK must prepare for a no-deal Brexit
Boris Johnson has warned the UK must prepare for no trade deal with the European Union.
The Prime Minister today announced Brussels would not give Britain the kind of deal he wants, and insisted unless that changes there would be no agreement.
His comments come after the two sides failed to find terms in time for his self-imposed deadline of October 15.
He said: “From the outset we were totally clear we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on friendship and free trade.
“To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won’t work for our EU partners. They want the continued power to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries in a way that is completely unacceptable to an independent country.
“If the EU comes back ‘with a fundamental change of opinion’ then the UK will listen, but that doesn't sound likely after the summit.”
The PM explained with just ten weeks left until the end of the transition period, he “had to make a judgement” on the likely outcome if talks continue.
He continued: “Given they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit is explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, we must get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s.
"Based on simple principles of global free trade, and we can do it, because we always knew that there would be change on January 1st whatever type of relationship we had.
"We are willing to discuss the practicalities with our friends, where a lot of progress has been made on such issues as social security, aviation, nuclear cooperation, etc.
“It is clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership, they are not willing unless there is some kind of change of approach to offer this country the same terms as Canada.
"With high hearts and high confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative, and we will prosper mightily as an independent free nation country.”
The PM's spokesman went one step further, stating the “trade talks are over”.
The spokesman said: “The EU has effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position.
"The EU can either fundamentally change their position or we can leave on Australia’s terms.”
When Mr Johnson ran for the Tory leadership against former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, he had insisted the odds of no-deal Brexit are “a million-to-one against”.
In a document issued during Thursday's European Council summit, the EU had claimed progress in key areas was currently "not sufficient".
Despite his comments, EU leaders are still pushing the commission to find solutions instead of preparing for no-deal, and both sides are still talking.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for both sides to push on and find compromises.
She said: “On some issues there has been satisfactory movement, on others a lot of work still needs to be done.
"We have requested the UK in the sense of an agreement be willing for further compromise.
"Each side has its own red line.”
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: "The EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price.
"As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations.”
The neoliberal think-tank the Adam Smith Institute suggested the statement was posturing.
Deputy director Matt Kilcoyne said: “The Prime Minister has done his very best Theresa May impression today in announcing that nothing has changed, and that Brexit talks will continue past the artificial deadline the UK imposed and will likely continue past the artificial deadline the EU has imposed at the end of the month too.
“There is only one deadline to any potential deal in reality and that's the end of the transition period."
CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn urged both sides to keep talking and warned livelihoods were at stake.
She said: “After four years of negotiations and so many hurdles crossed, this is no time to give up.
“Neither side can afford to fall at the final fence. A deal is the only outcome that protects Covid-hit livelihoods at a time when every job in every country counts.”
Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine claimed no deal would be a disaster at a time the country was grappling with coronavirus.
The Edinburgh West MP said: "Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit has been disastrous and these reckless comments are just further evidence of the Prime Minister's incompetence.
"It has been more than four years since the referendum and yet here we are with a potential no deal and less than three months until the transition period ends.
"At a time when the UK is already facing the biggest crisis in generations as a result of coronavirus, we cannot afford to crash out of the EU without a deal in place or to accept a rushed, bad deal.
"The Government cannot allow people's livelihoods to be put further at risk, when so many are already struggling to get by.”
Labour's Rachel Reeves urged the UK Government to "step back from the brink" and "stop posturing".
The shadow minister said: "Any tariffs or any delays at the border will make it harder for goods to flow freely, whether those are foods or medicines.”
A so-called “Australia deal” means the United Kingdom would trade on World Trade Organisation terms.
Operating as a country without an EU trade agreement, like Australia, tariffs would be imposed, which would likely cause significant rises in price.
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