Johnson takes another step towards no-deal Brexit

By Viviana Garcia

London, Oct 16 (efe-epa).- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed he is ready to put Brexit negotiations on hold on Friday, warning the  United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal unless there is a “fundamental” change in position.

The head of the Conservative government said in a televised statement that his country could opt for an “Australian solution” with the EU, which would mean ending negotiations without a deal and allowing the relationship to be governed by World Trade Organization rules.

Johnson had set 15 October, the date of the beginning of a summit in Brussels, as the deadline for reaching an agreement with the bloc but several entrenched points, including access for the EU fishing fleet to British waters, have been a barrier to breaking the apparent deadlock.

After the UK officially left the EU on 31 January, British and EU Brexit negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier have held nine rounds of talks but fishing and government subsidies for businesses have continued to obstruct the sealing of an agreement on their future trade relationship.

Hardening his position in the final stretch of the transition period, which will end on 31 December, Johnson regretted that the EU could not offer his country a comprehensive trade agreement like the one it has with Canada and called on companies and ferry operators to prepare for the split.

Johnson said the 27 EU members “want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country”.

He warned that with 10 weeks left of the transition period “I have to make a judgment about the likely outcome and to get us all ready”.

The UK leader also accused the EU of not having negotiated “seriously” for much of the last few months and since the summit appears to have ruled out a Canadian-style agreement he said “we should get ready for 1 January with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade”.

He emphasized that the UK is willing to assess practical issues such as aviation safety and security cooperation with its European neighbors if there is no deal.

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