Assumptablog

Brexit: Boris Johnson says ‘no need’ for UK to follow EU rules on trade

Boris Johnson has set out his vision for a trade deal with the EU, saying there is “no need” for the UK to follow Brussels’ rules.

The PM called for a Canada-style free trade deal, saying the UK would return to the Withdrawal Agreement if such a deal was not reached.

But the EU’s Michel Barnier said its “ambitious” trade deal offer required a “level playing field”.

Labour said Mr Johnson’s “ideology had trumped common sense”.

The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the PM risked trade and investment in the UK if he kept “undermining collective agreements”.

Under the EU-Canada deal, import tariffs on most goods have been eliminated between the two countries, though there are still customs and VAT checks.

The flow of services, such as banking – which is much more important for the UK – between Canada and the EU are much more restricted.

Mr Johnson used his speech on “unleashing Britain’s potential” to raise the prospect of the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if EU chiefs refuse to sign off on a Canada-style free trade agreement.

In his speech in Greenwich, London, the PM said: “We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the EU market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation, on the example of Canada.

“We have made our choice – we want a free trade agreement, similar to Canada’s but in the very unlikely event that we do not succeed, then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

“The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no deal’. The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s. In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper mightily.”

Mr Johnson rejected the requirement for the UK to adopt Brussels-made rules “on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules”.

The PM added that he will seek “a pragmatic agreement on security, protecting our citizens without trespassing on the autonomy of our respective legal systems”.

He said the UK was ready to agree a deal on fishing with the EU and suggested that there would be annual negotiations on this.

When asked whether he accepted that leaving the EU with no comprehensive trade deal could have significant cost for jobs and businesses, Mr Johnson replied: “We’ve got a deal, it’s a great deal, we’re out.”

“When I hear prophecies of doom I’ve heard them before, I don’t believe in them,” he added.

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