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Sat, 11 July 2020

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Boris Johnson rules out accepting EU rules in exchange for post-Brexit trade deal

Boris Johnson rules out accepting EU rules in exchange for post-Brexit trade deal
3 min read

Boris Johnson will today set himself on a fresh collision course with Brussels by insisting the UK will not accept EU rules as the price of a tariff-free trade deal.

The Prime Minister will say there is "no need" for the Government to sign up to EU regulations in areas such as environmental standards, workers' rights or competition policy.

Instead, he will say that he wants the UK to strike a much looser, Canada-style agreement to be in place by the start of 2021.

Mr Johnson will set out his demands in a speech outlining what the UK hopes to achieve from trade negotiations which are set to kick off within weeks.

Meanwhile, the EU will also set out its own negotiating objectives, which are expected to call on Britain to align its rules and regulations with those of Brussels in exchange for tariff-free trade with the bloc.

But the PM will say: "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.

"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.

"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."

Canada struck a tariff-free trade agreement for 98% of the goods it sells to the EU, with an independent arbitration body in place to ensure that they meet Brussels standards.

However, the European Commission has insisted that sort of deal is not on offer in its talks with the UK.

Mr Johnson will add: "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.

 "In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper. And of course our new relationship with our closest neighbours will range far beyond trade.
"We will seek a pragmatic agreement on security, protecting our citizens without trespassing on the autonomy of our respective legal systems."

In a sign of how difficult the trade talks will be, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on Mr Johnson to "tone down the nationalistic rhetoric".

He said: "I've learned a lot from the past two and a half years dealing with Brexit and dealing with two different British prime ministers," the Taoiseach said.

"And one thing I'd say to everyone is let's not repeat some of the errors that were made in the past two-and-a-half years. 

"Let's not set such rigid red lines that it makes it hard to come to an agreement and let's tone down the kind of nationalistic rhetoric."

And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hit out at Michel Barnier for insisting that there would need to be customs checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.

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