London (AFP) – British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Thursday that a so-called hard Brexit should not hold any “terrors” and Britain would do “very well” operating under World Trade Organisation rules after leaving the EU.
Johnson told an audience of subscribers to the Daily Telegraph — a fervently pro-Brexit newspaper — that Britain is “prepared” to walk away from negotiations with the European Union if it can’t get the right deal.
“I don’t think this will happen but if we have to come out on WTO terms then we will be prepared to do so,” Johnson said.
“It doesn’t hold terrors for me and I think that we will do very well under those circumstances as well.”
The foreign secretary said preparations for Britain leaving the EU, as planned in March 2019, without a deal in place on a future relationship were ongoing.
But he added he expected Britain to get an agreement similar to what it has been asking for.
Prime Minister Theresa May set out her proposals for a new wide-ranging free trade agreement (FTA) in a speech on Friday.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond followed up this week, saying it would be in both sides’ “mutual interest” to include the financial services industry in the deal.
Johnson told his audience there had been a “relative absence of a strong reaction” to Britain’s arguments from the EU, describing it as “the dog that hasn’t barked”.
Britain’s stance has received a guarded reaction in European capitals.
EU Council President Donald Tusk warned Thursday that the problems of the Irish border must be resolved before talks on Brexit could proceed.
Britain has said it does not want to see any return to a hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.
Addressing the issue Thursday, Johnson said it “will be possible to have very, very minimal controls at the border”.