The United Kingdom has set a deadline of October 15 to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union, and if none is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say on Monday.
The UK left the EU on January 31, but there has been little progress on a new trade deal after a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December. Failure to reach a deal could result in the imposition of trade tariffs and customs controls for goods moving between the UK and EU.
Talks, which have stalled over the UK’s insistence that it has full autonomy over state aid and fishing, are due to resume in London on Tuesday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said an agreement on trade needed to be reached urgently and he blamed the stalemate on the UK’s attitude.
Johnson will say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.
“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say, according to comments released by his office.
If no deal is agreed, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.
The EU has been negotiating a trade agreement with Australia since 2018 but has yet to conclude a deal.
“As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it,” Johnson will say. “We will have full control over our laws, our rules and our fishing waters.”
In that case, the UK would be ready to find sensible accommodation with the bloc on practical issues such as flights, lorry transport or scientific cooperation, according to the excerpts.
The Financial Times newspaper reported that the British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels.
Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the plans.
A source told the newspaper that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland – a part of the UK – that Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.
The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost said on Sunday that the British government was not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year.
Johnson will say there is still a deal to be had based on a standard free trade agreement if the EU is ready to rethink its current position.
“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it,” he will say.