Sun | Apr 5, 2020

UK opens EU trade talks with threat to walk away

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2020 | 9:33 AM
In this photo issued by UK parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 3rd from right, during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, February. 26, 2020. (Jessica Taylor/House of Commons via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain laid out its opening demands for the upcoming trade talks with the European Union on Thursday, including a blunt threat to walk away from the negotiating table if there is no progress within four months.

The two sides appear headed for a rocky first round of negotiations as they try to forge a new relationship following the UK’s departure from the now 27-nation bloc.

Britain and the EU both say they want to reach a free trade agreement, but have starkly divergent views on how it should be overseen and what constitutes fair competition between their two economies.

The EU says Britain must agree to follow the bloc’s rules in areas ranging from state aid to environmental protections, and give European boats access to UK fishing waters, if the two sides are to strike a good deal.

But the U.K. is demanding the right to diverge from the bloc’s rules in order to strike new trade agreements around the world that it thinks will bolster the British economy.

“In pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty,” Michael Gove, the minister in charge of Brexit preparations, told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

“We will not be seeking to dynamically align with EU rules on EU terms, governed by EU laws and EU institutions.”

Britain’s negotiating mandate insists that “we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s, or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the UK.”

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