Published: Wed, February 05, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

B-word not banned, insists Boris Johnson

B-word not banned, insists Boris Johnson

The UK and European Union are on collision course for a Brexit trade battle as Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier set out competing visions of the future relationship.

Just 60 hours after Britain became the first country ever to leave the EU, Johnson dug in his heels about future relations.

While the United Kingdom is ready to consider an agreement with Brussels on fisheries, "it must reflect the fact that the United Kingdom will be an independent coastal state from the end of this year, controlling our own waters". "In the next couple of months we will see both sides standing firm and appealing to domestic audiences".

Barnier suggested the deal on fish will be prerequisite for the broader trade deal, saying the issue is "inextricably" linked to the trade talks.

Setting out his approach, he will say: "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".

Businesses will have to take the same steps to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period whether Britain strikes the Canada-style trade deal it is seeking, or a less comprehensive deal, Mr Johnson's spokesman said.

Britain, Mr. Johnson said, was "ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles" and emerge as the Superman of global free trade. But his uncompromising tone over trade underscored the scale of the challenge ahead.

After that, a cliff-edge looms.

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Legally, the commission is planning an association agreement with the UK. Though of limited economic significance, fishing is symbolically and emotionally important both in Britain and in continental Europe.

The EU on the other hand has warned Britain that access to its single market of 450 million people will depend on how far London agrees to adhere to such rules on environmental and labour regulations.

The EU feels that it is actually Mr Johnson - now that he has won an 80-seat majority - who is "shifting the goalposts" by suddenly claiming that the EU's longstanding position on the level playing-field is a new and unjust imposition.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada sets out the removal of tariffs on 99% of all goods types, some over a period of up to seven years.

In a speech outlining his goals for post-Brexit trade, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has alluded to the possibility of allowing genetically modified food from the USA to enter the UK. The US also wants sizeable concessions, especially on farm exports like "chlorinated chicken" (chlorine-washed chicken), which will be hard for Britons to swallow.

Each of the remaining 27 member states will have veto rights over the new agreement with the British.

Downing Street accused the European Union of reneging on promises in insisting EU courts have jurisdiction should any disputes over European Union law arise following the Brexit deal. That agreement included a "political declaration" that set out the framework for negotiations on trade and other issues.

The PM said that he shares the US President's "optimism", and insisted that their deal would have "enormous potential" and would be "governed by science and not by mumbo-jumbo".

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