European Union won’t hold us to ransom on a trade deal

Andrew Cummings
February 3, 2020

Mr Johnson will use his speech to push for a looser, Canada-style free trade agreement - with the option of a far more limited Australia-style arrangement as a fallback - a move branded "no-deal in all but name" by critics.

And in a bid to rebrand a potential "no deal" trade deal outcome, Mr Johnson will tell his London audience the United Kingdom would "prosper" even on WTO terms, with additional mini-deals tacked on to ensure travel arrangements, such as worldwide flights, can continue.

"There will be two conditions which will be very clear in this trade agreement: we want an agreement on fisheries, which will be hard, on reciprocal access to waters and markets for British and French fishermen", Barnier told French broadcaster LCI on Sunday.

"But on the whole, although Barnier and Johnson have indeed set out markedly different visions for trade relations, the UK Prime Minister was careful not to emphasise any of the sort of red lines that sunk his predecessor's negotiations with the European Union". "It's of utmost importance, and therefore I think it's only a matter of fairness to also play by the rules", she said.

The UK, since its departure from the bloc last week, is now in an 11-month transition period in which it has no representation in Brussels but continues to follow European Union rules while it works to agree a new relationship with the remaining 27 member states.

The prime minister chose to deliver his speech in the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on the River Thames, a spot steeped in Britain's past military glories.

Currently, Australia-EU trade runs along basic World Trade Organization rules, although there are specific agreements for certain goods. The vast hall, covered in paintings glorifying British achievement, is where Adm. Horatio Nelson lay in state after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar against the navies of France and Spain in 1805.

He is also expected to say that if the European Union does not accept an agreement similar to the EU's arrangement with Canada, then trade with the EU will have to be based on the UK's existing withdrawal agreement with the bloc, which would be "more like Australia's".

Mr Farage said the Brexit Party would remain active as an "insurance" to prevent any slip-ups by the Government on trade talks with Europe.

European Union leaders have repeatedly warned that the timetable is tight to strike any kind of deal.

Mr Gove had responded with a blunt "no" when asked on Sky News whether fishing access rights would be traded for a financial market deal. The EU-Canada deal that the British government cites as a model took seven years to negotiate.

That prospect alarms many businesses, especially in sectors such as the auto industry, which depend on the easy flow of parts across borders.

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