Speaking in Greenwich, London, Boris Johnson said the UK was “ready” to be the champion of free trade in the world post-Brexit. The Prime Minister said: “When we’re starting to hear some bizarre rhetoric when barriers are going up and where there is a risk that new diseases like coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational – to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage – then, at that moment, humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerful for freedom of exchange.
“Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the champion of the right of population to buy and sell freely among each other.
“I can tell you, in all humility, that he UK is ready for that role.
“We’re ready for the multidimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once.”
He warned: “I am here to warn you today that this beneficial magic is fading. Free trade is being choked, and that is no fault of the people, that is no fault of individual consumers.
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“I’m afraid it is the politicians who are failing to lead, the mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground.
“From Brussels to China to Washington, tariffs are being waved around like cudgels.”
“There is an ever-growing proliferation of non-tariff barriers, and the resulting tensions are letting the air out of the tyres of the world economy.”
Speaking in Brussels, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that a security partnership between the UK and EU would depend on the European Court of Justice playing a full role – something likely to be rejected by Brexiteers.
Setting out three conditions he said: “The UK should commit itself to applying the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Secondly, the British government should set up adequate standards for data protection – this is an essential concern for the Europeans and this is something that the European Parliament is paying a great deal of attention to.
“Thirdly, any co-operation should be subject to an effective dispute settlement mechanism.
“Where a partnership is based on concepts derived from European law, obviously the European Court of Justice should be able to continue its role in full.”
Michel Barnier, who said he had a “very direct and frank relationship” with Boris Johnson, suggested it would not be possible to complete the whole deal within 11 months.
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“Irrespective of the result that we will arrive at at the end of the year – and in any subsequent negotiations, and I say that because to do everything we will need more than 11 months of time – it won’t be business as usual,” he said.
Mr Barnier said an agreement on fisheries and the “level playing field” were “inextricably linked” to a trade deal.
“It’s clear that the agreement that we wish to have in the interests of UK fishermen and in the interests of European fishermen – I call that reciprocal access to our territorial waters and our markets – that agreement on fisheries will be inextricably linked to the trade agreement, as indeed will be… the agreement on the level playing field agreed with Boris Johnson.”
Mr Johnson said the UK would seek a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU.
“We want a comprehensive free trade agreement similar to Canada’s, but in the unlikely event that we do not succeed then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU,” the PM said.
“And let’s be clear, the choice is not emphatically deal or no deal – we have a deal, we’ve done it, and it did indeed turn out as I correctly prophesied to be oven ready.
“The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s or more like Australia’s and I have no doubt that in either case the UK will prosper mightily.”