Friday, 16 October 2020
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is time for the UK to “get ready” for a no-deal with the EU by January first after facing what he calls a refusal to “negotiate seriously” for the last few months.
“From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada style relationship based on friendship and free trade,” Johnson said on Friday “To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won’t work for our EU partners,” he added.
Johnson’s comments come after EU leaders agreed during a European Council summit on Thursday evening that “progress on the key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient for an agreement to be made” in the Brexit negotiations.
Over the past weeks, multiple high-ranking EU officials have said that the EU still wants an agreement, “but not at any price”.
‘Refused To Negotiate Seriously’
“I’ve concluded we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 16, 2020
“Given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1st with arrangements that are more like Australia’s, based on simple principles of global free trade,” said Johnson.
Calling on businesses, travellers and audiences to “get ready”, Johnson said he was “of course” willing to discuss the practicalities where a lot of progress has already been made. “It’s clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership, they are not willing – unless there is some fundamental change in approach – to offer this country the same terms as Canada,” he added.
On 7 September, Johnson said that if the 15 October deadline was not met, both parties should “accept that and move on”. His full response to the situation is expected later on Friday.
In response to the European Council’s conclusions, Britain’s Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said that he was “disappointed” and “surprised the EU is no longer committed to working ‘intensively’ to reach a future partnership”, as had been agreed on with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 3 October.
“Also surprised by the suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from the UK. It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation,” Frost added.
Jules Johnston & Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times