Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed this morning that Britain will diverge from Brussels post-Brexit despite EU warnings this could rule out a free trade deal. She told Sky News the UK “will be diverging” from the EU, taking a much tougher line than Chancellor Sajid Javid last week. Last week, Mr Javid pledged there would be no divergence after Brexit for the sake of it, adding there will be no wholesale dumping of EU regulations.
Ms Patel claimed there was “no disagreement in government at all” that that there will be divergence from the bloc’s rules.
She told Sky News: “We are clear: we are leaving. We will be taking back control of our laws, our money, our borders.
“In terms of divergence, we are not having alignment. We will be diverging.
“We want to take control of our laws, money and our borders.
“And to do that we will not be rule-takers – we will be setting our own laws and that is a fundamental feature of leaving the European Union.”
This follows EU warnings from both Brussels and EU member-states, with the EU’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt claiming it would be “very difficult” to a sign a deal if the UK does not commit to its rules on trade, immigration and finance.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “How far this will go is very difficult to say because it will depend on what the willingness is of the UK side to also comply with a number of standards in the European Union.”
Pressed on the outcomes if Britain does not sign up to EU rules, he said: “It will be very difficult to have a broad free trade agreement at that moment.”
Helen McEntree, the Irish minister for European affairs, added to the doubt this morning, warning there is “a huge amount of work still to do” to sign a deal.
The agreement gained Royal assent from the Queen on Thursday and European leaders will vote to approve it next week.
Mr Johnson has previously vowed to secure a trade deal by the end of 2020, when the 11-month transition period after the UK formally leaves on January 31 ends.
However, the EU has repeatedly said it will be “impossible” to strike a comprehensive trade arrangement in that time frame.
Later in her interview on Sky News, Ms Patel said British businesses have been “far too reliant on low-skilled and quite frankly cheap labour from the EU”.
She added that the Government thinks it is “about time” that businesses “started to invest in people across the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Published at Sun, 26 Jan 2020 12:03:00 +0000