British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set a hard-line tone toward the EU in a speech Monday as the two sides prepare to enter the next phase of trade talks.
Setting out his demands for negotiations in a speech in London, Johnson will say the U.K. won’t accept alignment with EU legislation or accept judicial oversight from the EU’s top court, The Times reported Sunday.
After Britain left the EU on Friday with Johnson pledging a “new era of friendly cooperation,” the U.K. government over the weekend took a combative tone.
Arguing the EU cannot expect the U.K. to meet its regulatory standards, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday: “We’re not going to be aligning with EU rules, that’s not on the table … The legislative alignment, it just ain’t happening.”
But he accused Brussels of having unreasonable requests, for example by demanding that trade disputes be adjudicated by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“We’re not going to have a positive agreement with the EU, that’s not going to happen, if they pull the rug and shift the goal post,” Raab said.
The U.K. government’s tough talk appeared ill-received by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who told the BBC that “setting out so boldly such hard red lines actually makes coming to an agreement more difficult … unless those red lines are turned pink in some way.”
Varadkar said legislative alignment — meaning the U.K.’s commitment to EU social, environmental and other standards — is crucial to ensure a level playing field.
“If we’re going to have tariff-free quota-free trade [like Canada], then that needs to come with a level playing field … We would have very strong views on competition and state aid,” he said.
The EU is also expected to set out its draft negotiating position Monday, with the Observer reporting that will include a strong line on the sensitive issue of Gibraltar.
As a further signal of Britain’s intentions, Raab last week instructed British diplomats to “sit separately” from EU officials at international summits, according to a telegram sent to the country’s embassies abroad reported by the Times on Sunday.
Varadkar on Sunday described the move as “a little bit petty.”