LONDON, Sept 6 — Britain will not become “a client state” under the terms of any post-Brexit trade deal struck with the European Union, the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost insisted late yesterday.
Ahead of an eighth and final round of scheduled talks with the EU next week, Frost said Britain was “not going to compromise on the fundamentals of having control over our own laws”.
“We are not going to be a client state,” he told the Mail on Sunday in a rare newspaper interview, as the stalled negotiations with the bloc near their conclusion.
“We are not going to accept provisions that give them control over our money or the way we can organise things here in the UK and that should not be controversial,” Frost added.
“That’s what being an independent country is about, that’s what the British people voted for and that’s what will happen at the end of the year, come what may.”
Britain formally left the EU in January, nearly four years after a landmark referendum to end almost 50 years of European integration.
But it remains bound by EU rules until the end of this year as both sides try to thrash out the terms of their future relationship.
The talks have become gridlocked over several issues, including so-called level playing field provisions and state aid as well as fisheries.
Time is running out for both sides to reach agreement, given the need for the deal and legal texts to be scrutinised by member states and ratified by the European parliament.
The deadlock has heightened fears of a no-deal Brexit after December 31, when much of the trade between Britain and the bloc could revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and tariffs.
However, Frost insisted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior ministers are not “scared” of such a scenario.
“If we can reach an agreement that regulates trade like Canada’s, great. If we can’t, it will be an Australian-like trading agreement and we are fully ready for that,” he said.
Referring to several years of prior negotiations, Frost said the previous UK government led by ex-premier Theresa May “had blinked and had its bluff called at critical moments” during Brexit talks — a mistake they would not be making.
“A lot of what we are trying to do this year is to get them to realise that we mean what we say and they should take our position seriously,” he added. — AFP