Britain wants an EU trade deal like the bloc pact with Canada, but talks stalled ahead of the UK’s final divorce.
The UK must prepare for a no-deal breakup with the European Union unless there is a “fundamental” change in the bloc’s position, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned.
He said on Friday that the EU is refusing to give the UK what it wants – a trade deal like the one with Canada.
Johnson responded to EU leaders who said at a Brussels summit Thursday that Britain must change its positions in order to allow an agreement.
“As far as I can see, they have given up the idea of a free trade agreement … Unless the approach fundamentally changes, we will go for the Australian solution,” he said in London.
Australia does not have a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU.
“For us, the trade talks are over. The EU has effectively ended it and only if the EU fundamentally changes its position is it worth speaking, ”Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.
The UK Conservative government insists that under these conditions the UK can continue to thrive, which would mean tariffs and other barriers between the UK and the EU, its largest trading partner.
However, many economists say it would be devastating for UK companies already grappling with the huge economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“All just rhetoric”
On Friday, EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen replied to Johnson’s comments that the bloc still wanted a Brexit trade agreement “but not at any price”.
🇪🇺-🇬🇧 Talks: The EU continues to work for an agreement, but not at any cost.
As planned, our negotiating team will go to London next week to step up these negotiations.
– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 16, 2020
“As planned, our negotiating team will go to London next week to step up these negotiations,” she said on Twitter.
A senior EU diplomat, asked to comment on Johnson’s no-deal statement, said: “Many EU politicians said the same thing in the debate last night.”
However, an EU diplomat noted that Johnson did not specifically say the UK would leave the negotiating table.
“So it’s all just rhetoric. He didn’t say they wouldn’t keep talking. They will too, ”said the diplomat.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier had offered to come to London next week to continue talks, even if both sides are stuck in key areas such as fisheries and competition rules.
“Now it’s over for the EU. It can either fundamentally change our position or we will leave on Australian terms where we will succeed, ”said Johnson’s spokesman.
“There is no point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week when he is ready to discuss all issues faster on the basis of legal texts without the UK having to take all the steps. If not, there is no point in coming. “