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.


  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he