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Mon, 6 April 2020

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EU will not put up trade tariffs even under a no deal Brexit, claims Boris Johnson

EU will not put up trade tariffs even under a no deal Brexit, claims Boris Johnson
4 min read

Brussels will not put up tariffs on trade with the UK even if there is a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson has insisted.

The Tory leadership hopeful doubled down on his claim that a provision under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, known as GATT 24, would be used to allow free imports and exports with the bloc while a long-term free trade agreement is thrashed out.

Mr Johnson said that was the best way to break the Brexit deadlock, despite the Prime Minister being among senior Tories warning his plan would not work as the EU would never agree to it.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has also said that GATT 24 could only be used if the UK and the EU have a withdrawal agreement in place, otherwise under WTO regulations there would “automatically” have to be tariffs.

Speaking during a phone-in on LBC, Mr Johnson was asked to explain how Mr Carney was wrong.

The former Foreign Secretary said: “He’s right in the sense that GATT Article 24 paragraph 5b makes it perfectly clear that two countries that are in the process of beginning a free trade agreement may protract their existing arrangements until such time as they’ve completed the new free trade agreement, and that’s a very hopeful prospect.”

Mr Johnson said Mr Carney was “wrong in thinking it’s not an option”, adding: “But what you could do is agree with our EU friends and partners to go forwards together on that basis.

“And when you think about it we haven’t had an interruption to trade between the UK and the continent for years and years and years, and I think it would be very bizarre if the EU should decide on their own, we wouldn’t put up tariffs, to impose tariffs on goods coming from the UK."

“So let’s be more positive about it, it’s time this country frankly stopped being so down about its ability to get this thing done and what I offer at this election is the ability to change the equation, to change the way we approach it and not to continue with the old failed approach.”


Elsewhere in the phone-in Mr Johnson repeatedly refused to say whether a picture which emerged yesterday of him holding hands with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds was “staged”.

The image, which showed the pair sitting at a table in the Sussex countryisde, was released following the revelation that police were called to the flat they share in south London after neighbours complained about a noisy altercation.

But it is unclear whether it was taken before or after the incident.

He said he wouldn’t comment on the “antiquity or the provenance” of the image of the couple, which appears on the front page of several newspapers this morning.

Asked if he was “happy” for the picture, which is said to show the pair in the Sussex countryside on Sunday, to have been printed he said: “I can’t determine what the newspapers decide to publish.”

Pressed on whether he knew if the picture was being taken, he said: “There are all sorts of pictures of me out on the internet that pop up from time to time.”

Again asked if he knew it was being taken, or that it was being used in the media, he said he was “not going to go into it”.

When presenter Nick Ferrari joked that it was a “state secret” he reacted forcefully, saying: “It’s not a state secret it just happens to be something I don’t want to get into.”

He accused the conversation of “descending into farce” but Mr Ferrari continued, suggesting it was an old picture, as Mr Johnson’s hair was longer in the photo than it is now.

The leadership hopeful said it was “beyond satire” when he asked how long ago he cut his hair, adding: “I’m not going to comment on the antiquity or the provenance of some photo newspapers decide to put on their front pages.”

Mr Johnson also dismissed claimed links between himself and controversial far-right figure Steve Bannon, calling them “the biggest load of codswallop I have ever heard”.

Asked if they text regularly and he gets advice from Donald Trump’s former chief of staff he said “absolutely not”.

He said he met Mr Bannon in the White House when he was working for the US President, and they “texted” last year when Mr Trump was in the UK last year to arrange a meeting, which ultimately did not happen.

“That is the sum total and yet this is turned by people who wish to stop me from achieving what I want to achieve into some kind of crazy alt-right conspiracy involving me and Steve Bannon," he said.


In a separate interview with TalkRADIO, Mr Johnson also toughened up his pledge to deliver Brexit by the 31 October deadline with or without a deal.

He said the UK would leave on that date "do or die, come what may."

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