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16.10.2020 23:12 News >> 'Get Ready' For No-Deal Brexit, Says UK Premier

'Get Ready' For No-Deal Brexit, Says UK Premier

Johnson says UK would not reach agreement with EU ‘unless there’s a fundamental change of approach’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that the time has come for the UK to "get ready" for a no-deal Brexit on Jan. 1.
Reading a statement from Downing Street, Johnson said: "From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on friendship and free trade.
"To judge from the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won't work for our EU partners. They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries in a way that is completely unacceptable to an independent country."
The EU Council yesterday said they were "disappointed" by the lack of progress in talks, but would continue in the coming weeks.
The suggestion that talks would drag on provoked ire within the British government, as Johnson previously set Oct. 15 as the date by which a deal had to be reached, or else he would walk away from talks.
"And since we only have 10 weeks until the end of the transition period on January 1, I have to make a judgement about the likely outcome and to get us all ready," Johnson continued.
"And given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears to explicitly rule out a Canada-style deal, I've concluded that we should get ready for January 1, with arrangements that are more like Australia's, based on simple principles of global free trade."
Johnson continued by telling the UK to get ready: "And we can do it, because we always knew there would be change on January 1, whatever type of relationship we had.
"And so now is the time for our businesses to get ready, and for our hauliers to get ready, for travellers to get ready.
"And of course we're willing to discuss the practicalities with our friends where a lot of progress has already been made, by the way, on issues such as social security, aviation, nuclear cooperation and so on."
"But for whatever reason, it's clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership, they are not willing, unless there is some fundamental change of approach, to offer this country the same terms as Canada," he said, making his frustrations with the EU clear.
Johnson concluded in an upbeat tone: "And so with high hearts and complete confidence, we will prepare to embrace the alternative and we will prosper mightily as an independent free-trading nation, controlling our own borders, our fisheries, and setting our own laws.
"And in the meantime, the government will, of course, be focusing on tackling Covid and building that better so that 2021 is a year of recovery and renewal."
Answering questions from the media after reading his statement, Johnson was pressed on whether the UK was pulling out of talks, but he wavered.
"As far as I can see they've abandoned the idea of a free trade deal. There doesn't seem to be any progress coming from Brussels. So what we're saying to them is 'Only come here, come to us, if there's some fundamental change of approach'," he said.
"If there's a fundamental change, your approach, of course we're always willing to listen. But didn't seem particularly encouraging from the summit in Brussels yesterday and today," he added.
The UK left the EU on Jan. 31, 2020, and is in a transition period until Jan. 1, 2021. The trade talks are to secure an agreement for what happens after the transition period ends, as this will also end free movement of people, capital, goods, and services.
- Reactions
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted after Johnson's statement that the bloc continued "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," said von der Leyen.
Meanwhile, Christine Jardine, the Brexit spokesperson for the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said: "Boris Johnson's handling of Brexit has been disastrous and these reckless comments are just further evidence of the prime minister's incompetence. It has been more than four years since the referendum and yet here we are with a potential no deal and less than three months until the transition period ends."
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, which had voted to stay in the EU in 2016, said Brexit was "another massive disruptive event" on top of dealing with the coronavirus. She said Johnson should have asked for an extension to the transition period when he had the chance earlier in the year.
Sturgeon said the only realistic options left for the UK were no-deal or a minimal deal that would still cause huge disruption at the start of next year.
"I think that is now inescapable," she said at her daily coronavirus press briefing. "I find it very, very frustrating that at a time when all of us should be giving 100% of our time and focus and energy to Covid, that the Scottish government -- and this will be true of other governments in the UK -- are having to think about how we cope with the prospects of Brexit where the implications of that are potentially huge.
"We will do everything we can to deal with the implications of that but make no mistake, resources are finite. Every civil servant's or every hour of my time that has to be spent right now thinking about the implications of a no-deal Brexit or a bare-minimum deal Brexit is a civil servant's or an hour of my time not focused as it should on trying to steer the country through the Covid pandemic."
Later on Friday, the prime minister's spokesman hardened the British government's stance on Brexit.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing to reporters, he said: "The first thing to say is the trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them by saying they do not want to change their negotiating position.
"The EU can either fundamentally change their position or we can leave on Australian terms."
He added: "What I would say to that is there is only any point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week if he's prepared to discuss all of the issues on the basis of legal text in an accelerated way without the UK being required to make all of the moves, or if he's willing to discuss practicalities of areas such as travel and haulage which the PM mentioned in his statement."
"Our position is a clear one," the prime minister's spokesman said. "Only if the EU fundamentally changes position will it be worthwhile talking." -

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