The European Union has shown no intention of accepting entering into a “Canada-style” deal with the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit era and talks have therefore failed, Boris Johnson said on Friday on the second day of a crunch EU summit.
The United Kingdom will now be putting its energy into preparing the country for a full no-deal Brexit on January 31st, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday lunchtime, after two days of high-level talks with European leaders appeared to have failed in producing progress.
"I've concluded we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia's"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 16, 2020
The talks had stalled for months over very fundamental differences over what both sides wanted out of the future relationship. While Britain wanted a deal with Europe the same as the one the bloc had already struck with Canada — a former British dominion with similar cultural, political, and legal traditions — which would allow easy trade without the EU exerting political control over the nations’ capital, Brussels had different ideas.
Insisting a Canada-style deal was not possible because the UK was in closer geographical proximity to the European Union, Brussels negotiators instead wanted to retain key controls over Britain, including the right to impose EU laws on Britain and to make decisions over British territorial waters.
Noting despite months of talks nothing consequential had changed in that situation as of today, Mr Johnson said the EU insisting it keep those controls were “completely unacceptable to an independent country”.
He said in televised remarks that because only ten weeks remained until the transition period expired on January 1st it was now time to make preparations. Mr Johnson told Britons: “I have to make a judgement about a likely outcome and to get us all ready. And given they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given this summit appears to explicitly rule-out a Canada style deal, I have concluded we should get ready for January 1st with arrangements which are more like Australia’s, based on simply principals of global free trade.
“And we can do it, because we always knew there would be change on January 1st whatever type of relationship we had, so now is the time for our businesses to get ready.”
A canada-style deal was always impossible given the withdrawal agreement. Boris now reaching the right solution. https://t.co/TsT6sZbKUg
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 16, 2020
The announcement came just hours after France’s Emmanuel Macron made more demands of Britain to surrender its fishing waters in return for a deal, an outcome Brexiteer Nigel Farage has long called unacceptable, noting that Britain regaining control of her territorial waters is an “acid test” for Brexit.
Whether talks are now actually over or not is less than clear, however. The British have threatened to walk away from the negotiating table several times, and the UK government ramping up no-deal preparations when talks stall has been used as a negotiating tactic. Either detecting that this is nothing more than a move to panic Europe, or moving to set themselves up as the slighted party, the EU moved quickly after Johnson’s announcement to insist that talks would continue next week.
Read the prime minister’s remarks:
We left the EU on January 31 and delivered on the largest democratic mandate in the history of this country. And since then we have been in a transition period obeying EU law, paying our fees – as a non-voting member – working on the future relationship we hope to enjoy with our friends and partners from January.
And from the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on friendship and free trade. To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won’t work for our EU partners. They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way which is completely unacceptable to an independent country.
And since we only have ten weeks until the end of the transition period on January 1st, I have to make a judgement about a likely outcome and to get us all ready. And given they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given this summit appears to explicitly rule-out a Canada style deal, I have concluded we should get ready for January 1st with arrangements which are more like Australia’s, based on simply principals of global free trade.
And we can do it, because we always knew there would be change on January 1st whatever type of relationship we had, so now is the time for our businesses to get ready and our hauliers to get ready, our travellers to get ready.
And of course, we are willing to discuss the practicalities with our friends where a lot of progress has already been made, by the way, on issues such as social security, aviation, nuclear cooperation and so on.
But for whatever reason, it is clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership they are not willing, unless there is some fundamental change of approach, to offer this country the same terms as Canada. And so with high hearts and with complete confidence, we will prepare to embrace the alternative, and we will prosper mightily as an independent free-trading nation, controlling our own borders, our fisheries, and setting our own laws.
And in the meantime, the government will, of course, be focussing on tackling covid and building back better, so 2021 is a year of recovery and renewal.