UK will ap­proach no-deal with ‘con­fi­dence’

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By James Crisp Brus­sels cor­re­spon­dent

THE Prime Min­is­ter warned Bri­tain would “em­brace” a no- deal Brexit un­less there was a “f un­da­men­tal change” in the Euro­pean Union’s ap­proach to trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Boris Johnson said that un­less the EU moved on its red lines of fish­ing and level play­ing field guar­an­tees, the UK would trade on WTO terms, with tar­iffs and quo­tas, from Jan 1.

“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,” he said.

But he did not rule out fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions de­spite miss­ing his Thurs­day dead­line – the first day of the EU sum­mit in Brus­sels – for an agree­ment “to be in sight”. The Prime Min­is­ter’s spokesman said there was “no point” in Michel Barnier, the EU’S chief ne­go­tia­tor, com­ing to Lon­don for talks next week un­less Brus­sels changed its po­si­tion.

Em­manuel Macron, the French pres­i­dent, said af­ter the sec­ond day of the Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing that an agree­ment was pos­si­ble and sug­gested French fish­er­men could pay for con­tin­ued ac­cess to UK wa­ters. He con­ceded they would not have the same ac­cess as be­fore Brexit.

An­gela Merkel said ne­go­tia­tors could find a mech­a­nism en­abling both sides to “re­act quickly” to changes in sub­sidy laws, in a sign Brus­sels was look­ing to man­age any di­ver­gence rather than

for­bid it out­right. In a joint sum­mit state­ment on Thurs­day, the EU dropped a call for “in­ten­si­fied ne­go­ti­a­tions” and called on the UK to “move” on fish­ing, the level play­ing field guar­an­tees and the en­force­ment of the deal.

Mr Johnson said: “As far as I can see, they have aban­doned the idea of a free trade deal. There doesn’t seem to be any progress com­ing from Brus­sels. So, what we are say­ing to them is, ‘ Come here, come to us if there is some fun­da­men­tal change of ap­proach’.”

Af­ter ac­cus­ing the EU of seek­ing to keep con­trol of UK leg­is­la­tion and fish­ing wa­ters, fail­ing to ne­go­ti­ate “se­ri­ously”, and re­ject­ing the Bri­tish re­quest for a Canada-style deal, he called on Bri­tish businesses to prepare for no deal.

EU lead­ers said they ex­pected trade talks to con­tinue un­til the bloc’s dead­line of the end of Oc­to­ber.

Mr Macron said he would not sac­ri­fice his fish­er­men: “We need com­pro­mise on ac­cess, but we know it will come with con­di­tions. Per­haps we will have to pay for it. If there is no deal, Euro­pean fish­er­men will have no ac­cess to Bri­tish wa­ters what­so­ever. That is the re­al­ity.”

He de­manded a long-term agree­ment on fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties rather than the annual ne­go­ti­a­tions the Bri­tish want.

Mrs Merkel, the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor, said: “We also need to be ready to com­pro­mise. If we want an agree­ment, then both sides need to make a move.”

Mark Rutte, the Nether­lands’ prime min­is­ter, 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.”

But Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The trade talks are over, the EU have ef­fec­tively ended them. Only come to Lon­don next week if you are pre­pared to dis­cuss all is­sues, with­out the UK mak­ing all the moves.” Sources said the PM’S in­ten­tion was al­ways to “play hard ball”. A se­nior Tory said: “Boris has looked weak on Covid; there’s no way he can look weak on Brexit or he’s fin­ished.”

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