Britain will be ready to quit its transitional arrangements with the European Union “on Australia terms” if no deal on their future relationship is reached, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday.
Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31. A transition period, during which Britain remains in the European single market and customs union, expires on Dec. 31 and pressure is mounting to agree a free trade deal before then.
With the two sides still far apart, a round of “intensified negotiations” is due to start next week.
“He (Johnson) said the UK would negotiate constructively but equally would be ready to leave the transition period on Australia terms if agreement could not be reached,” Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a statement.
Australia does not have a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU. Much of EU-Australia trade follows default World Trade Organisation rules, though specific agreements are in place for certain goods.
Earlier this week Angela Merkel said that the UK will have to “live with the consequences” of Boris Johnson ditching Theresa May’s plan to maintain close economic ties with the EU after Brexit, hardening her tone over the prospect of a no-deal scenario at the end of the year.
After more than three years in which the German chancellor repeatedly emphasised her openness to a deal that would maintain the UK’s current flows of trade with the bloc, she suggested the door leading to such a compromise had now closed.
“We need to let go of the idea that it is for us to define what Britain should want,” Merkel said in a wide-ranging interview with a small group of European newspapers, including the Guardian. “That is for Britain to define – and we, the EU27, will respond appropriately.”
Reuters / The Guardian