Brexit Is Done: Boris Johnson Wants ‘Canada Model’ for UK-EU Trade, But Is It Possible?

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by Teuta Franjkovic · 4 min read
Brexit Is Done: Boris Johnson Wants ‘Canada Model’ for UK-EU Trade, But Is It Possible?
Photo: BackBoris2012 Campaign Team / Flickr

Brexit is officially done. Now Boris Johnson is to use a high-profile speech on Monday to set out his plans to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement between UK and EU to an unprecedentedly tight deadline of 31 December, which he insists he will not extend.

Brexit could “unleash the full potential” of the United Kingdom, though there will be “bumps in the road”, said the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his first speech since Britain formally left the European Union. In his next speech that regards a trade deal with the bloc and other countries, Johnson will probably mention that he is ready to cut all the talks with the EU regarding the trade in case he doesn’t get it his way. He already set Australia as a successful example of a country that has a “looser” trade arrangement. However, it seems he might be becoming “privately infuriated” with what he sees as the EU’s attempts to frustrate a comprehensive free trade deal.

Johnson obviously thinks Brussels has unilaterally been “changing the terms” of the deal he agreed last year, when both sides set out to work towards an ambitious and deep trade agreement.

Johnson said:

“We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation between the EU and an energetic Britain, a Britain that is simultaneously a great European power and truly global in our range and ambitions.”

He added that when he looks “at this country’s incredible assets, our scientists, our engineers, our world-leading universities, our armed forces, when I look at the potential of this country waiting to be unleashed I know that we can turn this opportunity into a stunning success. And whatever the bumps in the road ahead I know that we will succeed.”

Varadkar says ‘Canada Model’ Impossible

Johnson also mentioned Canada’s agreement as an example of a comprehensive trade deal. However, few days ago, Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar said this kind of deal is not possible. He explained that “Canada is Canada and UK is UK.” He also then stressed that Ireland is “absolutely part of the group of European countries.” Varadkar mentioned he likes the term: “transnationalist” so people are voting in EU elections. He said it will be a challenge because “we entered together into the EU and now we are staying and the UK is leaving.”

Johnson’s speech acted as a starting gun on what is now going to be 11 months of hard trading. After three years of heavy talks on the UK’s political pull out, the early hints are showing that the parties will fight in order to bypass a change in their trading arrangement come 2021.

Leyen: EU Wants to Stay Friends with UK

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has previously been saying it will be “impossible” to break on a full deal before Johnson’s hard year-end deadline. Few days ago she said that the bloc wants “to stay good friends and good partners” with Britain. Due to many common interests, she added, “we want to forge a close partnership.”

“When it comes to trade, we are considering a free trade agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas. This would be unique. No other free trade agreement offers such an access to our Single Market,” she stated.

Johnson on the other hand, stressed he wants to strike deals with countries around the world, precisely Donald Trump’s USA. A Downing Street spokesman mentioned that Cabinet discussed the Government’s future trade agenda, which includes, already mentioned, Canada-style FTA with the EU.

‘If You Accept the Laws, You Become Subordinate’

Johnson stated:

“From tomorrow, the UK will also be free to begin trade negotiations with countries around the world – with the aim to have 80% of our trade covered by FTAs within three years.”

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and one of the biggest Brexit supporters in the United Kingdom, Michael Gove accepted the trade-offs that would have to be made in any deal.

“We want trade to be as frictionless as possible but the EU is clear, you can only have fully frictionless trade if you accept all of their rules, if you accept all their laws, you are subordinate to their judges, you are subordinate to their political structures,” noted he.

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