Boris Johnson Warns EU: UK Ready to Walk Away Without Trade Deal
British prime minister met with Ursula von der Leyen to discuss Brexit terms
During a Wednesday meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss Brexit terms, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly warned that the UK is ready to walk away from the EU without a trade deal.
Von der Leyen, the new president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, was in the UK for talks with the PM Johnson on Wednesday.
Ahead of their meeting, a Downing Street spokesman told The Times: “He will tell President Von der Leyen that, having waited for over three years to get Brexit done, both British and EU citizens rightly expect negotiations on an ambitious free trade agreement to conclude on time.”
Johnson also reportedly warned Von der Leyen that he will not sign a deal that would force the UK to agree to abide by EU regulations.
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr. Johnson wants to “underline that the upcoming negotiations will be based on an ambitious FTA [free trade agreement], not on alignment.”
The news follows remarks from the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who said that Brexit Britain should not follow Brussels on financial regulations.
“It is not desirable at all to align our approaches, to tie our hands and to outsource regulation and effectively supervision of the world’s leading complex financial system to another jurisdiction,” Carney told the Financial Times.
Speaking from the London School of Economics (LSE) ahead of the meeting, Commission President von der Leyen said that the UK will, however, have to make “trade-offs” to get a trade deal.
She said: “Without free movement of people, you can’t have free movement of goods, capital, services.
"Without a level playing field, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.”
She also said: “Without an extension [to the transition], you cannot agree with every aspect [of the negotiation]. You will have to prioritize.”
Prime Minister Johnson has included in his Brexit legislation that leaving the EU’s institutions and regulatory frameworks cannot be delayed beyond December 31st, 2020.
The UK has already had Brexit day delayed three times.
The EU commissioner’s remarks are one of many coming from Europe as the bloc talk tough over Brexit negotiations.
On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that negotiations “should be approached in cold blood” by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barner.
He also said that the UK must demonstrate “flexibility that is in line with these ties to Europe and this ambitious schedule.”
–Eurocrats Threaten to Scupper Trade Talks over Migrant Rights–
Brussels has also threatened to hold off agreeing on a trade deal over EU migrant rights.
In a letter seen by The Telegraph and reported on Tuesday, Michel Barner had raised “issues of concern” with Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay over the rights of the three million EU citizens living in the UK.
The government has said that it will establish an Independent Monitoring Authority — at a cost of £145 million — to monitor the protection of EU citizens’ rights after Brexit. It will handle complaints and have the power to launch investigations and bring legal action against the government if it deems a European migrant’s rights have been breached.
Mr. Michel said in the letter that the IMA must have the ability “to act rapidly and in full independence” on complaints.
Under the terms of exit agreements, the millions of migrants living in the UK are entitled to have their residencies and rights grandfathered into a settled status.
However, a senior EU official threatened that any curbing of the powers of the IMA or its independence could block a future trade deal.
“The UK needs to be careful to remember that all of the future relationship needs to be ratified by the European Parliament and trust is a delicate commodity,” they told The Telegraph.