Boris Johnson’s Brexit chief draws battle lines with EU over trade deal

Boris Johnson’s Brexit chief last night has warned EU bosses Britain was not bluffing over its trade deal demands.

Drawing battle lines with Brussels, the Government’s lead negotiator David Frost claimed the UK would leave the transitional arrangement on December 31 as planned.

Officials have just 10 months to seal a trade pact – a timetable experts say is near-impossible.

But Mr Frost insisted Britain would not bow to calls to accept EU standards and rules as the clock ticks down.

Speaking in Brussels, he said: “To think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.

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“It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project.

“That’s also why we will not extend the transition beyond the end of this year.

“At that point we recover our political and economic independence in full – why would we want to postpone it?

“In short, we only want what other independent countries have.”

The Prime Minister has said he wants a looser, Canada-style, free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU than his predecessor Theresa May planned.

“We are not asking for anything special or bespoke,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said yesterday(MON).

“We are seeking a deal that the EU has struck previously with other countries such as Canada.”

Downing Street said it was still seeking “quota-free, tariff-free” arrangements – even though Canada’s deal does not eliminate all tariffs and quotas.

Mr Frost added: “The reason we expect – for example – open and fair competition provisions based on FTA precedent is not that we want a minimalist outcome on competition laws.

“It is that the model of an FTA and the precedents contained in actual agreed FTAs are the most appropriate ones for the relationship of sovereign entities in highly sensitive areas relating to how their jurisdictions are governed and how their populations give consent to that government.”

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