Tough talking begins

Johnson tells Barnier ‘we did not sign up to EU trade rules’

Boris Johnson in Greenwich

Britain was set on a new collision course with the EU today after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier clashed over tariffs.

Mr Johnson insisted he not sign up to the bloc’s rules while Mr Barnier warned of tariffs and quotas unless he did.

The PM called for a Canada-style free trade deal, saying the UK would return to the Withdrawal Agreement if such a deal was not reached.

Canada’s deal with the EU removes tariffs on the majority of goods traded between the countries and public contracts are opened up to each other’s contractors. Products must comply with each other’s standards.

Crucially, the services sector – which makes up about 80% of the UK economy – is only partially covered by the deal and it does not cover financial services.

Speaking in Greenwich today following the UK’s exit from the EU on Friday night, Mr Johnson said: “There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules.”

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