Johnson warned: ‘Be careful what you wish for’
Boris Johnson: ‘we’re not stopping talks’
Boris Johnson last night said there was a ‘strong possibility’ that the UK and the EU will fail to reach a deal and to prepare for a departure on terms like Australia’s, which does not have a trade agreement with Europe.
Australia does about a hundred billion dollars’ worth of trade annually with the EU on World Trade Organisation rules.
However, former Australia prime minister Malcolm Turnbull warned Mr Johnson to be “careful what you wish for”.
He told a TV audience last night: “There are very big barriers to Australian exports of agricultural products in particular, there’s a lot of friction in the system in terms of services, there’s a lot to aim for.
“So, you know, be careful what you wish for. Australia’s relationship with the EU is not one from a trade point of view that I think Britain would want, frankly.”
The Australian government is currently pressing for a free trade agreement with the EU.
The Prime Minister said he is stepping up British preparations for a chaotic split from Brussels after failing to make a breakthrough in discussions with EU president Ursula von der Leyen.
Mr Johnson said the “deal on the table is really not at the moment right for the UK’ and ‘we’re really not there yet at all” on the crunch issue of fishing rights.
However, the premier said he would persist with trying to get a deal and may embark on a tour of EU capitals in the coming days to get an agreement over the line before the 31 December deadline.
Mr Johnson said he is willing to “go to Brussels, I will go to Paris, I will go to Berlin, I will go to wherever to try and get this home and get a deal”.
He added: “We’re not stopping talks, we’ll continue to negotiate but looking at where we are I do think it’s vital that everyone now gets ready for that Australian option.”
Johnson said that they must increase preparations for a potential no-deal Brexit.
“Now is the time for the public and for businesses to get ready for 1 January, because believe me there’s going to be change either way,” he said.
“There’ll be change whether it’s a Canada-style deal or Australia-style deal.”
The three biggest areas still to be resolved are EU fishing access to UK waters, business subsidy regulations as a part of level playing field talks and the overall governance of the deal.
The Office for Budget Responsibility financial watchdog has forecast that a no-deal outcome could wipe 2% off UK GDP next year, equivalent to around £45 billion in lost business.