Brexit

Boris Johnson says Britain should prepare for final no-deal break with Brussels

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out his approach to future talks with the EU. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Patrick Daly and Gavin Cordon, PA Political Staff

Boris Johnson has said that, unless there is a "fundamental change of approach" from the EU, Britain is prepared to move to trading on World Trade Organisation rules when the Brexit transition period ends.

The Prime Minister said this week's EU summit in Brussels has made clear that the EU is not prepared to offer the kind of Canada-style deal the UK is seeking.

READ MORE: UK/EU Brexit deal in 'everyone's best interests', says Arlene Foster

"They want the continued ability to control our destiny and freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is completely unacceptable," he said.

"Given that this summit appears to explicitly rule out a Canada-style deal, I think that we should ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia's."

Mr Johnson had previously made clear that if there was no agreement by the time of the two-day summit, which began yesterday, he would walk away from the negotiating table.

The Brexit process has been thrown into fresh turmoil. Picture by Jonathan Brady, Press Association

The Prime Minister's announcement came after the summit conclusions agreed yesterday called on the UK to make the "necessary moves to make an agreement possible".

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he is ready to travel to London on Monday to continue the negotiations.

Following Mr Johnson's statement, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that visit will still go ahead as planned.

"The EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price," she tweeted.

"As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations."

Asked if he is now walking away from the negotiating table, Mr Johnson said: "What we are saying to them is, 'Come here, come to us if there is some fundamental change of approach'.

"Otherwise we are more than happy to talk about the practicalities that I described - social security issues, road haulage and so on.

"But unless there is a fundamental change in approach, we are going to go for the Australia solution.

"And we should do it with great confidence - as I said, high hearts and confidence because we can do it."

In the run up to the summit, both sides had acknowledged significant differences remained over the issues of future fishing rights and state aid rules.

However few in Brussels believe Mr Johnson will simply walk away from the negotiating table.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he wasn't going to engage in a "negotiation process via the megaphone or in a public way".

"Suffice to say I think Britain has an enormous amount to gain through access to the European single market," he said.

"Historically the UK and Europe have very close relationships. Obviously it's been a member state for quite a long time now and therefore the nature of this type of negotiation is different perhaps to previous negotiations with third countries.

"And I think to be fair to the European side they have taken that into account because essentially Britain has been offered zero-tariff, zero-quota access to the single market and to me a good deal is there to be done if you look at the big picture, in terms of jobs and protection of the economy and access to a huge market.

"That's a big prize waiting there, in my view, for the UK economy and so I think it would make sense that the talks would continue next week and would be brought to a conclusion in the best interests of everybody."

He added: "A lot of substance has been negotiated already, it's not a simple matter of taking some deal off the table and handing it to somebody.

"This is a deal that will have to sustain long into the future, will have to represent the underpinning of a strong relationship geo-politically into the future between Britain and the EU. Britain and Europe have a lot in common and I think there is a desire on all sides for a constructive close relationship with the UK - and that's what I picked up from the meeting last evening."

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