UK says Brexit trade talks are 'over' unless EU shifts

WION Web Team London, United Kingdom Oct 16, 2020, 07.11 PM(IST)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a cabinet meeting at the Foreign Office in London, Britain Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

European Union leaders agreed a 'fair' new partnership with Britain was 'worth every effort' but that the bloc would not compromise at any cost and was ready for an abrupt split in trade worth a trillion euros every year.

Britain on Friday said Brexit trade talks were effectively at an end unless the European Union shifted its position.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared Britain should "get ready" for an Australia-style agreement based on World Trade Organization rules from January "unless there is a fundamental change of approach" from Brussels.

Johnson's official spokesman told reporters, "As far as we're concerned, the trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them and only if the EU fundamentally shifts its position will it be worth talking."

European Union leaders had agreed a "fair" new partnership with Britain was "worth every effort" but that the bloc would not compromise at any cost and was ready for an abrupt split in trade worth a trillion euros every year.

Also read: European Union chief warns UK must respect Brexit withdrawal deal

Talks have narrowed gaps on issues from social welfare to transport but three contentious areas have so far prevented a deal: fair competition, dispute resolution and fisheries, which is particularly important to France as it has coastal communities that fish in British waters. But Macron said the main priority for EU leaders was to ensure there would be fair competition rules between Britain and the EU.

Johnson accused Brussels of failing to negotiate seriously and, although leaving the door open, indicated he would slam it shut if there was no movement from the EU.

"It's over to the EU now. It can either fundamentally change position or we will leave on Australian terms, under which we will prosper," he added.

"The EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said around an hour after Johnson's comments, which sent sterling lower.

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Johnson said earlier on Friday that unless the EU changed course there would be no deal giving British businesses continued free access to the EU's huge single market.

That came after the EU leaders' summit on Thursday put the onus on London to budge in the talks or stand ready for major trade disruptions from 2021.

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