Signing up to EU standards would defeat purpose of Brexit, UK negotiator David Frost saysFebruary 23, 2020
“It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project,” says David Frost.
Britain will not sign up to follow EU standards because it would defeat the point of Brexit, the UK’s chief negotiator has said.
David Frost laid down his red lines in a rare public speech ahead of formal negotiations with Brussels on a trade deal due to kick off next month.
He said the UK has to be free to set its own regulations on labour rights, the environment and state aid because those are the “fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country”.
Thinking the UK will sign up up to being bound by EU rules to create a so-called “level playing field” to ensure smoother trade between borders “fails to see the point of what we are doing”, he added.
Speaking at Universite Libre de Bruxelles on Monday, Mr Frost insisted: “It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project.”
He also repeated Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge not to extend the Brexit transition period.
That is the 11-month window from 31 January until the end of 2020 where the UK is still part of the single market and customs union while a trade deal can be hammered out.
Brussels thinks the time frame is too short for a full free trade agreement, and French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian has already predicted that “we are going to rip each other apart”.
“That is part of negotiations, everyone will defend their own interests,” the close ally of President Emmanuel Macron predicted at the Munich Security Conference.
The EU has repeatedly warned Britain cannot expect to enjoy continued “high-quality” market access if it insists on diverging from EU social and environmental standards.
There is expected to be a particularly tough fight over fishing rights, with Brussels insisting continued access to UK waters must form part of any agreement.
MP Stewart Hosie, the Scottish National Party’s trade spokesperson, said Mr Frost’s intervnetion was “a worrying sign of the direction the Tory government is intent on dragging Scotland and the UK down”.
“Rather than working to maintain the high standards in place in the EU, the Tories’ insistence on diverging on rules risks a race to the bottom in standards that will hit our businesses and vital industries,” he warned.