There is a strong possibility no free trade deal will be struck with the EU and the UK should be prepare to crash out with no-deal, Boris Johnson has warned.
The prime minister told British citizens and businesses to make proper preparations for that scenario, which would come into effect on 1 January 2021 adding that the deal currently on the table isn’t right for the UK.
He insisted he would keep going and go the extra mile to try to strike a trade agreement with Brussels, but added he told cabinet ministers this afternoon to get on and make those preparations for no-deal.
It came after Ursula von der Leyen said it would be difficult to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement, the European Union’s top official said as she stepped up no-deal planning.
Ms von der Leyen set out plans for emergency legal agreements to keep planes flying to the UK and lorries crossing Europe the day after a dinner with Boris Johnson failed to produce a decisive breakthrough.
The EU set out proposals for contingency agreements if a trade deal is not in place when the current arrangements expire at the end of the month, including on air routes, aviation safety and road transport.
One of the four measures proposed by Mrs von der Leyen is for EU fishing boats to continue to enjoy access to UK waters during 2021, an area which has been one of the main sticking points in the trade negotiations.
But Downing Street rejected the four measures as incompatible with the UK’s new found sovreignty.
At a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, Mrs von der Leyen said: “I had a very long conversation yesterday night with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
It was a good conversation but it is difficult. We are willing to grant access to the single market to our British friends it is the largest single market in the world.
But the conditions have to be fair. They have to be fair for our workers and for our companies, and this fine balance of fairness has not been achieved so far.
In response to the EU’s proposals, Downing Street again stressed the importance of taking back control of the UK’s waters.
In a clip Mr Johnson said: “I’ve just updated Cabinet on where we’ve got to with our friends and partners in the EU and they agreed very strongly with me that the deal on the table is really not at the moment right for the UK.
And I’ll tell you why, there’s a couple of things at least, the most important is really in just the last couple of weeks, they’ve brought back the idea of this equivalence between the UK and the EU which basically means that whatever new laws they brought in we would have to follow or else face punishment, sanctions, tariffs or whatever.
And it was put to me that this was kind of a bit like twins and the UK is one twin the EU is another and if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment.
Or if the EU decides to buy an expensive handbag then the UK has to buy an expensive handbag too or else face tariffs…Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed and it’s unlike any other free trade deal. It’s a way of keeping the UK kind of locked in the EU’s orbit – in their regulatory orbit.
Second thing, obviously is fisheries. After many years now of voting to leave the EU we wouldn’t still have control of our waters and that’s no good. And so the Cabinet agreed very strongly with it that we’re really not there yet at all.