Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said any suggestion the UK will have to follow European Union rules and laws after 2021 “just ain’t happening”.
The Cabinet minister re-iterated Boris Johnson’s tough stance on the upcoming trade talks with Brussels, after Government sources confirmed the Prime Minister would use a speech in London on Monday to warn that the UK will accept no alignment and no jurisdiction from the European courts.
Mr Raab used broadcast interviews on Sunday morning to drive the point home to European leaders that Britain would no longer be a rule-taker now Brexit had been delivered.
“We’re not going to be aligning with EU rules, that’s not on the negotiating table, it’s not even an issue of red lines – it is not even in the negotiating room,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.
The legislative alignment, it just ain't happeningDominic Raab
“We are entering into these negotiations with a spirit of goodwill.
“But we are just not doing that other stuff. The legislative alignment, it just ain’t happening.”
The former Brexit secretary said the Canada-style free trade deal the UK was seeking “doesn’t involve” adhering to Brussels’ standards once the transition period is over in 2021.
He accused Brussels of attempting to “shift the goalposts” since the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration was signed-off last year, after reports emerged suggesting the EU was demanding that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has a role in overseeing disputes in any trade deal with the UK.
The PM’s hardline approach secured backing from Nigel Farage, the politician many see as making Brexit possible.
The Brexit Party leader told the BBC that alignment would “not be Brexit”, adding: “I think (the PM) is saying all the right things. I think he is being consistent with the manifesto on which he was elected.”
And the Conservative Party leader was likely to have been buoyed by the assessment of Donald Tusk, the former European Council president, that 11 months was sufficient for striking a trade deal with the EU.
Mr Johnson has consistently vetoed the idea of asking for an extension beyond the December 31 deadline for the discussions, despite reservations from European leaders about the lack of time available for a full-scale agreement.
Polish politician Mr Tusk told the Marr programme: “One year is enough to finalise our negotiations.”
But the Government’s rally against EU rules after Brexit saw Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster express concern that such a situation could cause a border down the Irish Sea.
As part of the Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Johnson agreed that the six counties would continue to follow single market rules to avoid border checks along the border with Ireland.
It means, if Britain has rules that differ from Brussels post-2021, then cargo travelling into Northern Ireland from Great Britain could face inspections.
In comments made to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, DUP leader Ms Foster said it was “difficult to see” how checks could be avoided since ministers intended to “diverge away from single market regulations, whilst Northern Ireland remains within the single market”.
Mr Raab – looking to allay Northern Ireland customs fears – said EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was “wrong” to threaten checks, arguing it was “directly in conflict” the withdrawal terms.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar had his own message for Mr Johnson’s administration, calling on Britain to dial down the “rhetoric” and avoid putting down “rigid red lines” early on in the talks, which are due to start in March.
“As is always the case when it comes to negotiations, setting out so boldly such firm red lines actually makes coming to an agreement more difficult because the other party you are negotiating with doesn’t feel they got a fair deal unless those red lines get turned pink or bent in some way,” he told the BBC.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, in an interview with the BBC, called for an agreed “baseline of protection” on environmental, employment and consumer rights between the EU and UK.
In his speech setting out his post-Brexit vision on Monday, the PM is expected to rule out watering down any such rights in upcoming trade deals, while also confirming the NHS will not be on the table during any negotiations.
Mr Raab confirmed he will start a tour of Asia and Australia next week, a trip encompassing Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, as he looks to lay the ground for global trade deals, which will be conducted simultaneously to the battering with the EU.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that a trade deal is earmarked to be agreed with Japan by Christmas, followed by more agreements with Australia and New Zealand in mid-2021.