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27 February 2020

The Guardian: UK says it will consider walking away from Brexit talks in June

Boris Johnson is asking the EU for a Canada-style trade deal but will consider whether to walk away from talks in June and prepare for an “orderly” exit from the transition period.

Setting out its negotiating mandate for EU talks, Downing Street said it wanted “regulatory freedom” from the EU and would not accept any role for the European court of justice (ECJ) in dispute resolution mechanisms.

The government said it hoped to achieve “the broad outline” of an agreement by June, with the aim of finalising a deal by September. If not enough progress had been made by June, the government would “need to decide whether the UK’s attention should move away from negotiations and focus solely on continuing domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion”.

The threat sets the UK on course for leaving the transition period on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms at the end of the year unless either or both sides make major concessions within four months.

While the UK wants to be free to set its own rules, the EU wants some degree of regulatory alignment, with the option of imposing tariffs if one side reneges. It would also like a role for the ECJ.

Downing Street says this would restrict the UK’s sovereignty more than in the EU’s offers to other nations such as Japan, Canada and the US.

The UK’s negotiating mandate asks for:


  • A liberalised market for trade in goods, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions on trade in manufactured or agricultural products.

  • Competition and subsidies to not be subject to the final agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism, which had been previously signalled in the political declaration.

  • A separate agreement on fisheries that would allow for annual negotiations on access to each other’s waters, including allowable catch and shares. The EU wants fishing to be considered as part of the overall agreement.

  • An agreement on equivalence on financial services to be decided before the end of June.

  • No participation in the European arrest warrant but a similar extradition agreement as the EU has with Iceland and Norway – a position likely to cause alarm among law enforcement bodies.

Full article on The Guardian

Negotiating mandate for EU talks

Related articles:

Financial Times: The UK’s threat to walk out of EU trade talks is real

Financial Times: The political, ideological and commercial logic of Brexit

© The Guardian

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