Boris Johnson warns Brussels he would rather walk away without a trade deal than make Britain follow EU rules



Adam Payne | Business Insider

Boris Johnson warns the EU that Britain will not follow any of its rules in a future trade deal. The prime minister will set out his desire for a loose relationship with Brussels in a speech on Monday. EU figures have said that Britain must sign up its rules in order to secure high levels of market access. 

However, Johnson will say “it is vital to stress” that Britain will not sign up to them under any circumstances. The prime minister will warn Brussels that Britain will walk away without a trade deal if necessary.

In a speech in south London this morning, the prime minister is set to declare that there is “no need” for the United Kingdom to sign up to EU rules and regulations in exchange for high levels of access to European markets.

Johnson’s remarks put the UK on collision course with the EU when trade talks get underway next month. 

EU figures including European Commission President, Ursula Von Der Leyen, have said that Britain must sign up to a “level playing field” with the EU in order to secure tariff and quota-free access to European markets.

However, the prime minister will today categorically rule out signing up to commitments of this sort.

“There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules.

 “The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas – better, in many respects, than those of the EU – without the compulsion of a treaty and it is vital to stress this now,” he is expected to say.

Johnson is also set to warn Brussels that he is prepared to walk away from trade talks without an agreement.

“We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the EU market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation, on the example of Canada,” he is expected to say in his speech.

“We have made our choice: we want a free trade agreement, similar to Canada’s but in the very unlikely event that we do not succeed, then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

“The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no-deal’. The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s.”

Australia and the EU do not have a free trade deal, and trade largely on World Trade Organisation rules.

The Institute For Government think tank last month warned that an outcome of this sort would be just as damaging to British businesses as a no-deal Brexit, as it would result in swathes of new checks on goods.


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