Boris Johnson plea: PM urged not to fall into EU ‘trap’ as transition period approaches

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Mr Johnson and the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week have “agreed the importance” of finding a post-Brexit deal. It came as talks between Westminster and Brussels entered yet another round. The Prime Minister’s October 15 deadline for a deal to be struck is fast approaching.

Reports in past weeks suggest both parties are quietly confident that a deal will be reached in time.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen have instructed their chief negotiators – the UK’s David Frost and EU’s Michel Barnier – to “work intensively” in order to try to bridge the gaps that have so far eluded an agreement.

These include key issues like fishing rights and Government subsidies.

As the end of the transition period approaches, the UK has begun to look elsewhere to secure trade deals.

Last month, it achieved its historic first free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan.

Next in line are countries like the US.

In agreeing FTAs, Mark Littlewood, the director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), urged Mr Johnson not to make the same mistakes as the EU in its trade dealings abroad during an interview with

He explained: “On trade deals, I hope the Government doesn’t fall into the trap that the EU is always falling into.

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“We shouldn’t look at achieving a trade deal as being the full and final word on our relationship with a country, the one that ends in ‘there it is, here is the text and that is what our trading relationship will be forever more’ – a sort of single undertaking.

“If we can make piecemeal agreements with the US or indeed the EU or any other country, where we might be able to agree on one particular aspect of manufacturing but not on any aspect of agriculture, for example, then I think it’s worth putting through those too.

“We could then return to the table perhaps year on year to try and get new deals through, rather than having this view that we must produce a single comprehensive document that covers absolutely every area of economic activity.

“If we can agree on some areas but not others, let’s get a deal in those areas we can agree on and keep returning to the negotiating table to try and get breakthroughs on areas that we can’t.


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“It seems actually to deliver better dividends, better and more liberalised trade over the long term, rather than having this determination that we’re going to sit down over a negotiating table over a period of weeks and then get a final comprehensive unaltered document that will be the law for all time.

“That’s exactly the error the EU made with the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and it became a still born – it was too ambitious.”

The TTIP fell out of favour after 2015.

It looked to reduce the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, barriers like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations.

Shrouded in secrecy, the deal was later lost favour.

At the time, John Hilary, Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, described it as “an assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations”.

The idea of such an agreement has resurfaced in recent years though appears to have been kept on ice.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Leeds, Mr Johnson said that he wants a deal with the EU like one struck between the bloc and Canada.

He reiterated that the UK was ready should it have to leave without a deal.

Mr Johnson said: “We’re resolved on either course, we’re prepared for either course and we’ll make it work but it’s very much up to our friends and partners.”

Many, like the BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson, have noted that the chances of a deal being reached have soared in recent weeks.

This is as Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen agreed to speak on the phone on a regular basis – hence indicating an eagerness of both sides to continue negotiations and reach a result.

However, there appears to remain an unwillingness, Mr Watson claimed, in Brussels and Westminster over things like fishing arrangement and state aid provisions.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Brexit-supporting backbencher MPs that the days of the Government being “held over a barrel” were long gone.

Asked about potential compromises that could be made in a final deal, Mr Johnson said: “The balance of trade is overwhelmingly on the side of the EU in the sense that they export much more to us than we do to them, certainly in manufacturing goods, and so we think there is a big opportunity for both sides to do well.”

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