British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set an October 15 deadline for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union and warned that he could walk away from the negotiations if a deal is not reached by that date, AFP reported on Monday.
“There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European Council on October 15 if it’s going to be in force by the end of the year,” Johnson’s office quoted him as saying. “So, there is no sense in thinking beyond that point. If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us.”
Johnson’s remark came ahead of the eighth round of talks between UK and the European Union in London. The talks will resume on Tuesday.
In an interview to Daily Mail on Sunday, UK’s chief negotiator David Frost had said that his country will not compromise its position in the deal. “We came in after a government and negotiating team that had blinked and had its bluff called at critical moments and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously,” he told the newspaper. “So 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: “We are not going to be a client state. We are not going to compromise on the fundamentals of having control over our own laws.”
Last month, Frost’s EU counterpart Michel Barnier had accused the British government of “wasting valuable time” and warned that a post-Brexit deal between the two would be unlikely, according to The Guardian.
Britain formally exited the EU on January 31. The country has to reach a trade deal with the bloc by the end of its transition period on December 31 or it may be subjected to tariffs and economic hurdles in 2021. The negotiations between the two sides have primarily been delayed due to disagreements over fair competition rules and fishing rights.