BORIS JOHNSON has been warned by the EU to stick to the bloc’s rules or face years of trade talks after he vowed to deliver Brexit as soon as possible.
Following his 80 seat majority election win, the Prime Minister now has more of a chance of securing parliamentary approval for the withdrawal deal he struck with the EU in October. This will ensure Brexit happens by January 31. The UK will then go into a transition period until the end of 2020.
Mr Johnson can then negotiate a new relationship with the EU, including on trade.
But EU leaders said he will need to adhere to their single market rules in order to achieve this.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the EU summit news conference on Friday: “It will be very complicated.
“It’s about an array of relations, in trade, in fishing and cooperation in security and foreign policy.
“Our biggest hurdle will be that we need to sort out these issues very quickly.”
French President Emmanuel Macron warned Britain that the more it chose to deregulate its economy after Brexit, the more it would lose access to the EU’s single market.
He said in a press conference: “I want to tell our British friends and allies… you are not leaving Europe.
“We do not want them to be an unfair competitor.
“My message to the UK is that the more loyal we are vis-a-vis each other, the closer relationship we can have. If the British prime minister and the British parliament want an ambitious trade deal, they know where the European standards are.”
The EU is hoping to start trade talks with Britain by March, leaving just 10 months to strike a deal and get it approved by London and the EU, including member states’ parliaments.
Trade agreements with the EU typically take years to complete, and not many people in Brussels believe the transition period will be long enough to seal a deal with Britain.
The transition period can be delayed by one or two years but London must request an extension by the end of June.
With a large parliamentary majority, Mr Johnson may not need as much help from hardline Brexiteers in his party than he did before the election.
Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia think tank said: “Johnson’s success reduces the likelihood of no-deal next year, as it makes it more probable he will extend the transition period beyond December 2020 if he has to.”
EU officials point out that the end of June deadline for extending the transition would not be easy to push back.
If Britain were to stay in the transition period beyond 2020, it would require a financial settlement as the EU enters its new 2021-27 budget.
The UK would be reluctant to keep on contributing to EU coffers so that discussion would be tricky.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump congratulated Mr Johnson and said a US trade deal could be more lucrative than any with the EU, the world’s biggest trading bloc.
“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN! Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT.
“This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU.