‘UK is a sovereign state!’ Liam Fox FURIOUS at EU plot to limit British trade
Liam Fox: EU’s got to accept the UK’s a sovereign country
Speaking to Sky News, the former international trade secretary said the issues causing the Brexit talks deadlock are “political” and have nothing to do with principles of trade. Dr Fox blasted the EU’s inability to accept the UK is now a sovereign state as he urged Brussels to treat Britain like it does other countries it has trade deals with outside of the bloc. He said: “It’s very clear that the problems are not the classical trade issues in this agreement.
“The problems are the politics and that was always going to be the case because the European Union has a problem understanding that the United Kingdom is a sovereign state, not still a part of the European Union.
“Therefore it is unreasonable to try to apply to the United Kingdom European rules that the UK has no part in making.
“It doesn’t do that with any other country that it has a trade agreement with at the present time.
“What it basically says is you may have left the EU but if you want a trade agreement you’d have to apply EU law even if you have no say in how that comes about.
“Of course that’s unacceptable to those who put the democratic principle at the heart of why we’ve left the European Union.”
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Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen held crunch talks over dinner in Brussels on Wednesday aimed at breaking the deadlock, but Downing Street warned afterwards that “very large gaps” remained.
The pair agreed that a decision on the future of the negotiations will be taken by the end of the weekend.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Thursday that, while he could not rule out a further extension in the talks process, it is important to have “finality”.
He said: “I think it’s unlikely but I can’t categorically exclude it.”
The Cabinet minister added that there has not been “enough pragmatism and flexibility on the EU side” and called for “substantial movement” from the bloc in order to seal a deal before the weekend is out.
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“I don’t think we can keep going on at that pace without having some progress and some flexibility,” he told the BBC.
“Particularly from the UK side, we look at the differences on fairly key points of principle – fairly narrow in scope, we are talking about fisheries, level playing field commitments, the EU’s attempt to lock us in to their rules – we need to see substantial movement.”
UK chief negotiator Lord Frost and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, will reconvene in Brussels on Thursday to begin their final push to salvage what has been almost a year of wrangling over a trade deal.
After the leaders’ three-hour dinner, a Number 10 source said it was unclear whether the divide between Brussels and the UK could be bridged.
“The PM does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested,” said the source, as negotiators were given a fresh mandate to thrash out a deal before transitional trading arrangements end on December 31.
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Mrs von der Leyen called the conversation with Mr Johnson “lively and interesting” but stressed their positions remained “far apart”.
The German politician is expected to debrief the leaders of the 27 member countries on the state of play with the negotiations when they gather for a European Council summit on Thursday.
Negotiations have faltered on fishing rights, the level playing field – measures aimed at preventing the UK undercutting the EU on standards and state subsidies – and the way that any deal would be governed.
Mr Raab said the UK has already moved in agreeing to a transition period to allow European trawlermen to adjust to changes in fishing rights, but argued that the EU is asking too much when it comes to level playing field arrangements.
“What we’re not going to be treated is in a way that no other country would accept, and nor would the EU accept,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It’s about some basic respect for democratic principles.”
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