Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Great Britain’s Johnson to detail tough stance in EU trade talks

Great Britain’s Johnson to detail tough stance in EU trade talks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Upon leaving the EU, the UK immediately entered an 11-month transition period agreed as part of the divorce, during which there will be little change in practical terms. AFP

Great Britain’s Johnson to detail tough stance in EU trade talks

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday outlined a hardline stance in post-Brexit negotiations with the EU, arguing Britain does not need to follow various EU rules to strike a trade deal.

In a keynote speech detailing his vision for the country’s future, days after its historic departure from the bloc following nearly half a century of membership, Johnson said he will seek a “pragmatic agreement”.

The British prime minister noted London had been told in earlier divorce talks with Brussels that it has the option of an ambitious trade deal, “which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation”.

“There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar,” Johnson said.

“The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas – better, in many respects, than those of the EU – without the compulsion of a treaty and it is vital to stress this now,” he added.

Johnson also insisted that if that type of agreement, similar to one the EU recently struck with Canada, is not possible then Britain would opt for a less comprehensive trade deal.

“The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no-deal’,” he said.

But in a sign of the potentially fraught nature of the high-stakes talks, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar urged London on Sunday to “tone down” what he called “nationalistic rhetoric”.

Britain should avoid repeating the past mistake of insisting on “rigid red lines” which “makes it hard to come to an agreement”, he said.

Late on Friday, Britain ended almost half a century of often reluctant membership of the European Union, an organisation set up to forge unity among nations after the horrors of World War II.

Upon leaving, the UK immediately entered an 11-month transition period agreed as part of the divorce, during which there will be little change in practical terms.

Britons will be able to work in the EU and trade freely – and vice versa – until December 31, although the UK will no longer be represented in the bloc’s institutions.

Legally however, Britain is out, and attention is now turning to what may prove to be gruelling talks with Brussels this year to hammer out all aspects of the future partnership.

Johnson, a polarising figure accused of glossing over the complexity of leaving the EU, is in a rush to seal an agreement.

He has vowed not to extend the transition phase, giving himself just 11 months to find consensus on everything from fishing to finance – not enough time, according to his critics.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who will set out the bloc’s negotiating positions also in a speech in Brussels on Monday, has warned that some items will have to be a priority.

He wants handshakes on fisheries, internal and external security and, above all, trade in goods.

France reminded Britain on Sunday that the UK exports most of its fish production to EU countries, highlighting a potential bargaining chip in coming post-Brexit talks about fishing rights that promise to be thorny.

But the EU said it fears being undercut on their own doorstep.


  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15