Boris Johnson said the bloc agreement should be reached by October 15, noting that its absence could be a "good outcome."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a tough statement on the eve of decisive talks round with the European Union on the post-Brexit trade settlement. According to him, London may withdraw from the negotiations in the coming weeks, and withdrawing without reaching an agreement could be "a good outcome for the United Kingdom."
According to Johnson, in a situation where negotiations have come to an impasse, reaching an agreement is possible only if EU negotiators are willing to "rethink their current positions."
In turn, the EU accuses the UK of being unable to conduct serious negotiations.
Britain left the European Union on January 31, three and a half years after over half of the country voted for leaving the bloc, a member of which it had been for over 40 years. Political withdrawal will be followed by an economic divide when the 11-month transition period ends on December 31 and the UK leaves the EU's single market and customs union.
Without an agreement, the new year will bring tariffs and other economic barriers between Britain and the bloc, which is its largest trading partner. Johnson said his country would "prosper to the highest," even if it had "a trade deal with the EU like Australia," that is how the British government describes Brexit without reaching an agreement.
The head of the British negotiating delegation David Frost and his colleague Michelle Barnier will meet in London on Tuesday for the eighth round of talks.
The main stumbling blocks are the accessibility of European vessels to UK fishing areas and government aid to industry. The EU is determined to ensure a “level playing field” for competition so that UK companies cannot undermine environmental and working conditions in the EU or pump public money into UK industry.
Britain accuses the EU of putting forward demands that have not been made to other countries the EU has concluded free trade agreements with, as an example citing Canada.
On Sunday Frost told the Mail that the UK "does not intend to compromise on the fundamental principle of maintaining control over its own laws."
“We will not accept a level playing field that will force us doing everything the way the EU does,” he said.
The EU said the agreement should be concluded by November to allow time for parliamentary approval and due diligence before the transition period expires.
Johnson talks about even tighter deadlines. According to him, the agreement should be reached before the October 15, EU summit.
"If we cannot agree by this date, then I do not see the possibility of concluding a free trade agreement, both sides must accept this and move on," he said.
Last week, Barnier expressed "concern and frustration" at the lack of progress. According to him, the UK's approach is not constructive.
British transport companies warned that the lack of an agreement could lead to congestion at ports, and the supply of key goods to the UK could be "seriously disrupted" from January 1.
On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that negotiations "are not going well" and condemned the UK's attempts to drive a wedge between EU countries over issues such as fisheries. Le Drian said that the 27 EU members remain united.
“We would prefer to conclude an agreement, but on the basis of our mandate,” he told France Inter radio. There is room for action, but it is necessary to consider the whole package including the fisheries package, to avoid a situation where there is no agreement."