European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen has warned Britain that it won’t get the “highest quality access” to the EU’s market after Brexit unless it makes major compromiseselection victory last month.
Johnson’s Conservatives won a substantial parliamentary majority, giving him the power to end more than three years of wrangling and take the U.K. out of the EU on Jan. 31.
Britain’s departure will be followed by a transition period in which the U.K.-EU relationship will remain largely unchanged while the two sides negotiate. Johnson has ruled out extending the transition period beyond its current expiry date of Dec. 31.
EU officials say it will be hard to strike a new deal in just 11 months. But Johnson’s office said Wednesday that “both British and EU citizens rightly expect negotiations on an ambitious free trade agreement to conclude on time.”
Once talks begin in earnest, tensions are likely to arise around Britain’s desire to diverge from EU rules and standards in order to strike new trade deals around the world. Downing St. says Johnson “will likely underline that the upcoming negotiations will be based on an ambitious FTA (free trade agreement), not on alignment.”
EU officials, however, stress that the two sides can’t have close relations unless Britain accepts a “level playing field” for U.K. and EU businesses.