without agreement in mid-October, “we will have to accept it and move on,” says Boris Johnson

The tone rose between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) on Monday, September 7, on the eve of the resumption of negotiations on their post-Brexit relationship, with Boris Johnson threatening to slam the door in mid-October and preparing, according to Financial Times, to go back on certain past commitments.

With the approach of the end of the transition period during which European rules apply on British soil, at the end of December, the head of the British Conservative government reiterated that the United Kingdom would not compromise on its independence to achieve a free trade agreement.

“We are now entering the final phase of our negotiations with the EU”, said the head of the Conservative government, stepping up the pressure before talks resumed on Tuesday.

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The UK formally left the EU on January 31, almost four years after a landmark referendum marking the end of almost fifty years of membership in the European Union. But it remains governed by European regulations until the end of the year. For the rest, the two parties try to conclude a free trade agreement.

“The EU has been very clear about the timing. Me too. There must be an agreement with our European friends by the European Council on 15 October so that it enters into force by the end of the year ”, stressed Boris Johnson. “It does not make sense to think of deadlines that would go beyond, he estimated. If we can’t come to an agreement by then, I don’t see a free trade agreement between us. We will have to accept it and move on. “

“We would have a trade agreement with the EU like Australia’s”, much less vast, which would represent according to him “A good outcome for the United Kingdom”, which is preparing its customs and port infrastructures for such a scenario. “We will have the freedom to conclude trade agreements with any country in the world. And we will thrive damn “, he said. But “An agreement can always be found (…). We will continue to work hard in September to achieve it ”.

Without agreement, a return to WTO rules

The negotiations stumble in particular on fishing and the conditions of fair competition. “Even at this late stage, if the EU is ready to rethink its position (…), I would be happy to “Boris Johnson concluded, warning the UK will not compromise “On the fundamentals”.

This already stormy atmosphere was further tense after the publication of information from the Financial Times. According to the business daily, the British government will introduce legislation on Wednesday which “Would eliminate” the legal scope of certain parts of the agreement governing the exit from the EU on January 31, including customs regulations in Northern Ireland. These provisions normally provide for the maintenance of certain EU rules in the British province in order to guarantee the absence of a physical border and to avoid the resurgence of tensions in this region. A spokeswoman for the UK government said the government was working on “To protect the place of Northern Ireland in our United Kingdom”.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned the UK is bound, “Under international law”, to respect the EU withdrawal agreement signed with Brussels. “Everything that has been signed in the past must be respected”, had reacted earlier the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier. “It is the pledge of confidence for the future”, he insisted at the microphone of France Inter, believing that “The British would like the best of both worlds”. For his part, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney ruled that such a bill would be a “Very reckless way of proceeding”.

Michel Barnier has also denied information from the British press which affirms that he was going to be excluded from the negotiations in order to unblock the discussions with London. “I am negotiating on behalf of the 27 heads of state and government, who trust me”, he noted. “I am under his direct authority, this question does not arise”, he also said, asked about a possible loss of confidence with Ursula von der Leyen.

In the absence of an agreement before December 31, the only rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with their high customs duties and extensive customs controls, would apply. What further weakens economies already hit hard by the pandemic.

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The World with AFP


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