Boris Johnson tells UK: prepare for a no-deal Brexit
Prime minister says EU must change its approach to talks if deal to be reached
Boris Johnson tells UK to expect Australia-style trade deal with EU – video
Boris Johnson has claimed there will be no more trade and security talks unless the EU adopts a “fundamental change of approach”, as he seeks to increase pressure on Brussels to give ground in the negotiations.
In a televised statement on Friday, the prime minister said the country would have to prepare for a no-deal scenario on 1 January, with his spokesman further toughening up the rhetoric later in the day.
“The trade talks are over – the EU have effectively ended them yesterday when they said they did not want to change their negotiating position,” the spokesman said, while stopping short of announcing the UK’s intention to decisively walk away.
Downing Street’s bravado was swiftly undermined in Brussels, where officials and leaders leaving an EU summit said they had no reason to believe the negotiations would not continue.
The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: “The EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price. As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations.”
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, who had intended to travel to London on Monday, spoke about the next steps with his British counterpart, David Frost, on Friday. .
A UK government spokesman said Frost had informed Barnier that there was no basis for negotiations in London. The two men agreed to talk again “early next week”, the spokesman said.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: “We intend to focus on the negotiations and these negotiations will continue in the next few days.”
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, suggested Johnson’s call for intensive talks and compromise, both of which were on offer, was simply an invitation to continue with the negotiation, despite Johnson’s claim that this summit had been his deadline for a deal.
He said: “I look with a positive sense to Boris Johnson’s reaction now that he is implicitly stating that he also now wants the talks to continue.”
In his statement, Johnson said that with only 10 weeks left until the Brexit transition period ended, he had to make a judgment about the likely outcome and to prepare the country.
“A lot of progress has been made on such issues as social security and aviation, nuclear cooperation, and so on,” he said, but “for whatever reason, it’s clear from the [EU
But such a change in approach was already evident on Friday, following a two-hour discussion by EU leaders the previous day on the bloc’s flexibility, during which they were made to hand over their tablets and phones to avoid leaks.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, accused Downing Street of using fisheries tactically and insisted it was not his job to make the British prime minister “happy”, but he conceded that the post-Brexit arrangements for British seas would not maintain the status quo for the EU fishing fleet.
“If there is a deal, it must allow us to define the modalities of access for our fishermen to British waters,” he said. “Will the situation be the same as it is today? No, it will not, that’s for sure. Our fishermen know it. We know that too. We are going to help them. We need to have a compromise on access, but we know it will not be of the same nature. It won’t be as ambitious. It will come with conditions, perhaps we will have to pay for it.”
Merkel said the EU should find a way to accommodate the UK’s wish to diverge from the EU rule book, while ensuring fair competition.
“If we want to have an agreement, then both sides need to make a move toward each other,” she said. “We need to react quickly. We can’t mutually rule out that each of us has different rules to a certain extent.”
Rutte later said of his fellow leaders’ comments: “The positive of the last two days is the EU has, by implication, signalled we’re ready to compromise, which has always been our position.
“We will not get 100% of what we want, that’s impossible in a negotiation, you always have to find compromise, you always have to find ways within the mandate Michel Barnier has received from the European council … He is a skilled negotiator, he will be able to explore where within the mandate there is room for compromise and that room is there.”
The financial services industry expressed its deep disappointment at the “political game of chicken”, with Catherine McGuinness, the policy chair at the City of London Corporation, saying businesses and households on both sides of the Channel “stand to be the main losers”.
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