Boris Johnson set the UK on track for a no-deal Brexit on 31 December, declaring that it is willing to step away from the free trade agreement negotiations with the EU until Brussels demonstrates “a fundamental change of approach.”
Here’s the development:
- Boris Johnson said the country would have to prepare for a no-deal scenario on 1 January, while paving the way for the talks to continue next week as suggested by the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
- “A lot of progress has been made on such issues as social security and aviation, nuclear cooperation, and so on,” Boris Johnson said, but “for whatever reason, it’s clear from the [EU] summit that after 45 years of [UK] membership they are not willing, unless there’s some fundamental change of approach, to offer this country the same terms as Canada”.
- He said that given there were only 10 weeks left until the transition period ended, he had to make a judgment about the likely outcome and to prepare the country.
“I concluded that we should get ready for 1 January with arrangements that are more like Australia’s – based on simple principles of global free trade,” he told reporters in a pooled broadcast statement.
“So, we have high hearts, and with 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.”
- His official spokesman told reporters: “The trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position.”
- Responding to Johnson’s statement, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European commission, tweeted that 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.”
UK needs Brexit deal more than we do, says Macron
Emmanuel Macron has now responded to the PM’s remarks. The French president said EU leaders were united – and want the bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier to continue talks with Britain for two weeks.
“There are no divisions,” Macron said, repeating a line we’ve heard a lot in the past 24 hours: “We are ready for a deal, but not at any price.”
Macron also said the UK needs a deal “more than we do”. The president said France wants clear rules for its fishermen – and claimed fisheries were not the reason talks were currently failing. “The state of our talks is not that we are stumbling over the issue of fishing, which is the British tactical argument, but we’re stumbling over everything. Everything,” he added.
Nathalie Loiseau, an MEP who was formerly France’s European affairs minister, said earlier that talks “are not going well” and there had not been “sufficient progress on key issues”.
Angela Merkel: Brexit deal ‘better for both sides’
The EU is ready to continue negotiations with the UK, German chancellor Angela Merkel said after Boris Johnson told businesses to get ready for a no-deal Brexit.
“We have seen light in the past days, but also shadows,” Merkel told a news conference on Friday after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
Time was pressing and it would be “better for both sides to reach an agreement,” she said. “But not at any price.”