The United Kingdom initiated a fresh round of Brexit trade talks by warning the European Union that it has increased its preparations to leave the bloc without there being an agreement on trade, with the two sides in dispute over rules that control €846.475 billion in trade.
Britain officially left the EU on January 31, yet talks over possible new trade terms have made little progress, with the October deadline for a new deal inching closer and closer, also with the deadline for the status-quo transition arrangement to be done in late December.
The chief negotiator of the UK’s Prime Minister continues to stress that the UK is not afraid of a potential no-deal Brexit.
David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, stated that “We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground. We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country”.
He added that “If they can’t do that in the very limited time we have left then we will be trading on terms like those the EU has with Australia, and we are ramping up our preparations for the end of the year.”
On Monday, the EU warned the UK that its international reputation as a pillar of the West will be at risk if such a no-deal decision is taken, and that there would be no trade deal after the Financial Times reported that the UK government might want to undercut the Withdrawal Agreement treaty which was signed in January.
European diplomats claimed that the UK was playing a game of ‘Brexit chicken’ by threatening to completely collapse the process and then challenging the bloc to find a compromise first, yet some fear that Boris Johnson is looking at a no-deal exit as a way of distracting the UK people from the coronavirus crisis that has taken over the country.
The UK has clamed that the EU has not understood that it is now a completely independent country, with disagreements being reached in several areas, particularly when it comes to fishing and state aid.
The EU has called for specifics from the UK, and has also made it clear that the UK cannot simply form its own rules and have preferential access to its markets.
One EU diplomat stated that “As you get closer to the deadline, it’s not surprising people ramp up the pressure”.
The diplomat added that “We all believe there has been movement by the EU towards the UK position, but it hasn’t been reciprocated, and that’s the concern.”
The diplomat stressed that “time is running out” and that if the two parties are going to agree on a deal “that everybody wants, given the number of open issues and given the amount of time left, any deal is looking thinner and thinner”.
If no agreement is reached on trade, markets and businesses could be set to take a major stumble, with trade and financial ties between the world’s sixth-largest economy and the biggest trading bloc in the world being in disarray.