BORIS JOHNSON today told European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen Britain would reclaim control of its fishing waters and borders as part of any post-Brexit deal when they met for their first face-to-face talks.
During the one-hour meeting inside downing Street, the Prime Minister insisted that the future relationship would deliver on the promises made to voters ahead of the 2016 EU referendum. He also countered a growing list of demands from Brussels, which suggests the UK would have to conform with EU rules and regulations in order to strike a trade deal by the end of the year. Mr Johnson told Ms von der Leyen that Britain would no longer be aligned to the EU or under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
The meeting, which heralds in 11 months of intense negotiations that are due to start when Britain leaves the bloc on January 31, was described as “positive”.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “On Brexit, the Prime Minister stressed that his immediate priority was to implement the Withdrawal Agreement by January 31.
“They discussed the progress of ratification in the UK and in the European Parliament.
“He said the UK wanted a positive new UK and EU partnership, based on friendly cooperation, our shared history, interests and values.
“The Prime Minister reiterated that we wanted a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, and cooperation in other areas.
“The Prime Minister was clear that the UK would not extend the Implementation Period beyond 31 December 2020; and that any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ jurisdiction. He said the UK would also maintain control of UK fishing waters and our immigration system.”
Mr Johnson’s declaration will likely clash with the type of deal being sought by the EU side.
Prior to her meeting, Ms von der Leyen, during a speech at the London School of Economics, suggested that Britain would have to sign up to the EU’s freedom of movement and level playing field rules in order to strike a deal.
“Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market,” the EU Commission President said.
She added: “We are very open to do the most because I’m a true believer that as much exchange as possible we should allow to our citizens but if freedom of movement is excluded there’s a trade off to that, therefore, it’s a matter of negotiation.
“The EU is very open to that question that we’re strong believers that we benefit both sides very much from the free movement but those four principles go together, therefore, the next weeks and months will show at what point we end.”
Ms von der Leyen’s spokesman later confirmed that the chief eurocrat raised both negotiating demands with Mr Johnson.
The official said: “The President made clear that there is a trade-off between any regulatory divergence and access to the EU market.”
After witnessing his predecessor Theresa May struggle to form close relationships with EU figures, Mr Johnson has committed to “love bombing” his negotiating counterparts.
Glimpses of his diplomatic efforts were caught during the opening moments of his meeting with the Commission President.
Both leaders were filmed talking about being educated at the European School in Uccle, Belgium.
While they didn’t cross paths at the school, they regaled about a teacher they had in common.