Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson to get tough in trade deal negotiations with Brussels.
Mr Farage gave the advice on after President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the UK that it will need to make compromises to agree a new deal with the EU and said that Mr Johnson will have to extend the transition period to do so — a move which the Tory Brexiteer has rejected.
“Von der Leyen has just made it clear the EU wants continued free movement of people and a ‘level playing field’ on regulations for any Free-Trade Agreement. Boris wants ‘no alignment.’ The battle lines are set. We must be tough this time,” Farage said.
Mr Farage’s mentioning of “this time” likely alludes to Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, whose exit deal was branded a “total surrender” by then-backbencher Boris, who said it gave “infinite power to bully and blackmail” the UK to “get whatever it wants in the future negotiations”.
The former German defence minister was in London on Wednesday for talks with Mr Johnson. Before heading to Downing Street, she addressed an audience of students at the London School of Economics (LSE) of which Mrs von der Leyen is an alumna.
On forthcoming negotiations, she said: “But the truth is that our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before. And it cannot and will not be as close as before – because with every choice comes a consequence. With every decision comes a trade-off.
“Without the free movement of people, you cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.”
Mrs von der Leyen’s were not the only threats to be made against the UK ahead of negotiations in recent days. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and other Brussels bureaucrats reportedly claimed that the European Parliament could hold up agreeing to the new trade deal if the rights of three million EU migrants living in the UK are not secured. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron told Barnier that negotiations should be approached “in cold blood”.
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Germany, France, and Barnier have continued to stress that the EU will not agree a deal unless the UK plans to forfeit its hard-fought independence by retaining regulatory alignment with the EU. In a surprise statement from the otherwise pro-EU outgoing Bank of England chief, Mark Carney advised against the UK aligning itself with the EU after Brexit.
“It is not desirable at all to align our approaches, to tie our hands and to outsource regulation and effectively supervision of the world’s leading complex financial system to another jurisdiction,” Mr Carney said on Wednesday.
Reports revealed that while Europe has already begun to push their hard lines on negotiations, Mr Johnson is also likewise planning on holding his own on both regulations and the transition period.
Sources said that during the private talks, Mr Johnson was to tell the Commission president that “having waited for over three years to get Brexit done, both British and EU citizens rightly expect negotiations on an ambitious free trade agreement to conclude on time” and that “the upcoming negotiations will be based on an ambitious FTA [free trade agreement], not on alignment”.
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Boris Johnson is set to tell the president of the European Commission that he is ready to walk away from the EU without a trade deal.