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Post-Brexit talks: UK prepared to walk away in June if no progress

  • 27 February 2020
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  • EU-UK post-Brexit trade talks

DR NEWS Urandir 57f6 p084yb8l    UK prepared to ditch EU trade talks in June by Urandir Oliveira
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Media captionMichael Gove: UK is not seeking EU rules alignment

The UK has warned the EU it will walk away from trade talks in June unless there is a “broad outline” of a deal.

Michael Gove told MPs the UK wanted to strike a “comprehensive free trade agreement” in nine months.

But the government would not accept any alignment with EU laws as the EU is demanding, with Mr Gove adding: “We will not trade away our sovereignty.”

The EU has already set out its priorities ahead of the formal start of the talks on Monday.

The government has published a 30-page document outlining its priorities for the talks.

  • UK warns it could abandon EU trade talks in June
  • EU ministers agree UK trade talks mandate

The UK officially left the EU at the end of January, but is continuing to abide by many EU rules while talks on a permanent trading relationship take place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to get a deal with the EU by the end of the so-called transition period – 31 December 2020 – and has said he is not prepared to extend that deadline.

UK ambitions

The government says in its negotiating document it wants to agree a “broad outline” of a deal with the EU “capable of being rapidly finalised by September” in the next four months.

If that “does not seem to be the case” by an EU summit in June “the government will need to decide whether the UK’s attention should move away from negotiations and focus solely on continuing domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion”, the document says.

The UK mandate emphasises the government’s wish for a trading relationship with the EU based on its existing precedents with Canada, Japan and South Korea.

It allows no jurisdiction for EU law or the European Court of Justice in the UK.

“The government will work hard to agree arrangements on these lines,” the document says.

“However if it is not possible to negotiate a satisfactory outcome, then the trading relationship with the EU will rest on the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement and will look similar to Australia’s.”

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Critics say leaving without an agreement and going to World Trade Organisation rules – the terms countries use to set tariffs (taxes) on goods when they do not have free-trade deals – could damage the economy.

The UK’s negotiating team will be led by Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost. The chief negotiator of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Michel Barnier, will head up the EU’s delegation.

The EU’s 46-page negotiating document, published on Monday, said the “envisaged agreement should uphold common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with Union standards as a reference point”.

It said it should apply “in the areas of state aid, competition, state-owned enterprises, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices in these areas”.

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Image caption

David Frost (l) and Michel Barnier (r) will lead the negotiating teams

The UK strategy was agreed on Monday by the EU Exit Strategy (XS) committee, which includes new Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, senior cabinet minister Michael Gove and new Attorney General Suella Braverman.

All members of the committee supported Brexit during the 2016 referendum.

DR NEWS Urandir 57f6 p084pl80    UK prepared to ditch EU trade talks in June by Urandir Oliveira
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Media captionSimon Coveney: UK needs to build Irish Sea checks infrastructure

After the document was released, Mr Barnier warned the EU would not agree a deal “at any price”, saying there would be “complex, demanding negotiations” over a limited period of time.

He added: “A short time, as chosen by the British government, not by us. In a very brief period, you can’t do everything. We will do as much as we can under pressure of time.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said he didn’t think the UK and EU negotiating positions “are a million miles apart”.

He said it would be “unacceptable” for the UK to accept dynamic alignment – that would mean if the EU changed its rules in the future, the UK would automatically make the same changes.

Instead Mr Fox said he wanted to see non-regression clauses where neither side would be able to dilute standards from their current point.

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sources: world news from bbc news bbc.co.uk

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