LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday the UK must prepare for a no-deal break with the European Union unless there is a “fundamental” change of position on the part of the bloc.
Johnson told the E.U. refused to give Britain a trade deal like the one with Canada that the UK is seeking.
Refuses to bow to British pressure, E.U. Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen said less than an hour after Johnson issued his ultimatum that the E.U. still wants a Brexit trade agreement “but not at any price”.
The UK has threatened to withdraw from the talks if the E.U. Summit that ends later on Friday.
Johnson didn’t go that far, but said the E.U. seemed to have “given up” the idea of a deal. In addition, the UK would listen if there were “a fundamental change in approach” from Brussels.
Great Britain has the E.U. on January 31st, but remains part of its economic structure until December 31st. After that, a new trade agreement is needed or tariffs and other economic obstacles are met with the E.U. – its largest trading partner.
However, a trade deal remains elusive and E.U. In a joint statement, the leaders said it was now up to the UK to “take the necessary steps to enable an agreement”.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday Britain was disappointed with the tone of the bloc. In addition, there is little difference in trade talks between the UK and the European Union, and the bloc needs to be more “flexible” to reach an agreement on the line.
Raab said the BBC gaps remained on only two points: EU boats’ access to fishing waters in the UK and rules on a level playing field to ensure fair economic competition between the UK and the bloc.
A no-deal exit would hit companies and jobs on both sides and exacerbate the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
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But months of talks seem to have stalled.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the experienced diplomat, tried to calm the mood on Friday and said: “We have asked Great Britain to be willing to compromise. That of course means that we must also compromise.”
While boss E.U. The negotiator Michel Barnier announced that he expected the talks to continue.
“Negotiations are not over yet,” he said, adding that his team will travel to London next week for further talks and plans to start negotiations in Brussels the following week. The UK has not publicly approved this schedule.
The trust between the two sides, already frayed by years of severity of Brexit, took another nosedive last month when Johnson introduced laws that could violate parts of the take-back agreement he himself signed with the E.U. only last year. His move triggered resignations in protest.