Samuel Case, FISM News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it’s time to prepare for a no-trade deal Brexit unless the European Union fundamentally changed course, bluntly telling Brussels that there was no point in talking any more.
At what was supposed to be the “Brexit summit” on Thursday, the EU delivered an ultimatum: it said it was concerned by a lack of progress and called on London to yield on key sticking points or see a rupture of ties with the bloc from Jan. 1.
“I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade,” Johnson said.
“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 and setting our own laws,” he added.
EU heads of government, concluding a summit in Brussels on Friday, rushed to say that they wanted a trade deal and that talks would continue, though not at any price.
Johnson’s spokesman said talks were now over and there was no point in the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier coming to London next week barring a change in approach.
After demanding that London make further concessions for a deal, EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as little more than rhetoric, portraying it as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done.
Asked if he was walking away from talks, Johnson said: “If there’s a fundamental change of approach, of course we are always willing to listen, but it didn’t seem particularly encouraging from the summit in Brussels.
“Unless there is a fundamental change of approach, we’re going to go for the Australia solution. And we should do it with great confidence,” he said.
A so-called “Australia deal” means that the United Kingdom would trade on World Trade Organization terms: as a country without an EU trade agreement, like Australia, tariffs would be imposed under WTO rules, likely causing significant price rises.
Reuters American Wire and edited for brevity.