UK's Boris Johnson speaks on chlorinated chicken, post-Brexit trade

Britain does not accept the European Union’s rules to strike a comprehensive free trade deal with the bloc, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, adding that the choice was either a Canada or Australia-style accord.
calendar icon 3 February 2020
clock icon 5 minute read

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his negotiating terms for trade talks with the European Union in a speech in London on Monday, reported Reuters.

Below are the highlights of the speech:

On relations with the EU

"There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules."

"The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas... without the compulsion of a treaty."

"Here is the question: Are we going to insist that the EU does everything that we do as the price of free trade? Are we? Of course not."

On a Canada-type deal

"We want a comprehensive free trade agreement similar to Canada's but in the unlikely event that we do not succeed then our trade will have to be based on our existing withdrawal agreement with the EU."

"Let's be clear the choice is emphatically not deal or no deal, we have a deal."

"The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada's or more like Australia's and I have no doubt that in either case the UK will prosper.

"Our new relationship with our closest neighbours will range far beyond trade."

On whisky tariff

"It is high time, I think we all agree, that they (the United States) cut their punitive tariffs on Scotch Whisky."

On race to the bottom

"We will not engage in some cut-throat race to the bottom.

"We are not leaving the EU to undermine European standards. We will not engage in any kind of dumping, whether commercial or social or environmental."

"Look at state aid, France spends twice as much on state aid as the UK, Germany three times as much. Who is using subsidies to undercut? Not the UK."

On a future role for the ECJ

"We want a Canada-style deal, there are ways in which Canada and the EU can look at issues that arise as between them, over state aid or the environment."

On the banning of the word "Brexit"

"It's not banned, it's just over, it's happened...I won't say it's like the Big Bang or the Norman conquest but it's receding behind us in history and that's the approach we should take to it."

On the United States and food standards

"I totally understand the concerns about chlorinated chicken, because it's not a hygiene issue, it's an animal welfare issue. And what we will do is use our negotiations and persuade our partners, if they want to trade freely with us, then obviously they will have to accept our approach to animal welfare.

"But there are other issues where I think that I've heard a certain amount of hysterical... there is a sort of thing about as if American food was somehow inferior.

"I look at the Americans, they look pretty well nourished to me. And I don't hear any of these critics of American food coming back from the United States and complaining.

"I don't hear people complaining about the quality of the food they're offered in the United States. So let's take some of the paranoia out of this argument."

On free trade

"It has been free trade that has done more than any other single economic idea to raise billions out of poverty, and incredibly fast".

On challenges

"I am here to warn you today that this beneficial magic is fading. Free trade is being choked, and that is no fault of the people, that is no fault of individual consumers. I'm afraid it is the politicians who are failing to lead, the mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground.

"From Brussels to China to Washington, tariffs are being waved around like cudgels."

"There is ever growing proliferation of non-tariff barriers, and the resulting tensions are letting the air out of the tyres of the world economy."

On the need for someone to act

"Humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange. Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with his cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.

"We are ready for the great multi-dimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once."

On the potential for Brexit

"If we are brave and if we truly commit to the logic of our mission - open, outward looking, generous, welcoming, engaged with the world, championing global free trade now when global free trade needs a champion - I believe that we can make a huge success of this venture, for Britain, for our European friends and for the world."

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