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UK and EU at loggerheads over trade relationship

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

AP/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Unleashing Britain’s Potential speech in the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, yesterday

The UK and European Union are on collision course for a Brexit trade battle as Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier set out competing visions of the future relationship.

Major stumbling blocks are already obvious, just days after the UK left the European Union, with battles over fishing and the application of a "level playing field" on issues including state subsidies, environmental standards and workers' rights.

The Prime Minister insisted there was "no need" to abide by EU rules and said that British fishing grounds are "first and foremost" for UK boats. But the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that allowing European trawlers into British waters was "inextricably linked" to securing a trade deal.

And he pointed to the joint Political Declaration, agreed with Mr Johnson, which committed the UK to "robust commitments to ensure a level playing field".

The Prime Minister used a speech in Greenwich, London, to stress his commitment to free trade - and signal his determination to secure an arrangement with Brussels along the lines of that agreed between the EU and Canada.

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

"The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas, better in many respects than those of the EU, without the compulsion of a treaty."

Downing Street said the UK will agree to some regulatory alignment with the EU, as Canada has done, but would not accept alleged breaches being ruled on by the European Court of Justice.

"The issues of citizens' rights, of the Northern Irish border, they are now settled - over and done with," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

Belfast Telegraph