Boris Johnson has requested that the EU reworks the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the union to allow Britain to significantly diverge from European rules after Brexit. Theresa May had committed to a level playing field in key areas such as the environment and social standards. Although non-binding, the political declaration that was drafted by Mrs May, was intended as the key document defining the path of future negotiations once Britain has left the EU.
The European Commission told EU27 diplomats on Tuesday that the UK government had expressed its desire to deviate from EU standards. The petition was made by David Frost, the UK’s Europe adviser, during negotiations in Brussels last week, according to a diplomatic source. Mr Frost called on EU negotiators to commit to a best in class free trade agreement which would allow the UK to set its own regulatory standards after Brexit.
This has raised alarm across the EU at a time when the Government is also demanding the removal of the Irish backstop. With around six weeks to go before the Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019, the UK’s requirement for fresh negotiations is causing political turmoil both at home and across the continent.
Brussels has repeatedly said that future adherence to EU standards is a precondition for a wide-ranging and ambitious free trade agreement with the UK. The issue is making leading EU leaders wary of Britain amid concerns about its intentions to undercut EU standards in key economic areas in order to gain a competitive edge.
Mr Johnson has also asked to redraft areas relating to future defence relations and a dispute settlement mechanism with the EU but has, it is alleged, provided no tangible clarifications on the changes. The current negotiations appear to be at stalemate with representatives from both sides voicing concerns that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is becoming more likely despite actions in the UK parliament to prevent this from happening. Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit on time – pledge that he appears to be committed to regardless of the resistance he is facing. With time running out, it only remains to be seen what concessions can be reached that may bring about a resolution to the apparent deadlock.