Boris Johnson set for Brexit showdown with EU as he prepares to ditch food safety rules
And an economist has told Express.co.uk it is vital for the Prime Minister and his team to “push the envelope” as far as possible when it comes to the existing Brexit withdrawal agreement – because being too closely aligned with EU regulations will hamper the UK in future trade negotiations with other countries. The Prime Minister’s tough stance will enrage Brussels, who will regard the move as a breach of transition rules within the withdrawal agreement.
The US will formerly welcome the UK as an independent member of the WTO during a meeting to discuss sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) arrangements next week.
Julian Braithwaite, the UK’s permanent representative to the WTO, is ready to seize the opportunity to issue a “clear and a clear statement about future intentions” on beef hormones, gene editing and GM foods, as well as the use of peracetic acid – an alternative to chlorine – to wash poultry, reported City AM.
Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs think tank, told Express.co.uk: “This is an envelope which needs a lot of pushing.
“The whole point about this is that when our negotiators are talking to the 93 percent of the world’s countries who are not in the European Union, they have freedom to do so properly.
“If they have to go in there with a telephone-book sized list of EU regulations, the negotiations are scarcely going to get off the starting block.
“People will say ‘what the hell are these trade negotiations actually about then?’
The UK may opt to align with the EU in some areas, Mr Littlewood said – but stressed the decision needed to be taken in London, not Brussels.
He said: “We may choose to keep some regulations in place – but that must be our choice.
“Otherwise it’s a bit like that speech by Geoffrey Howe when he talked about sending the batsman to the crease after breaking his bat.”
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One source told City AM the uncompromising approach was indicative of the determination of Mr Johnson’s Government to do things differently.
They said: “In the past ministers have been told by government lawyers ‘you can’t do that’ and ministers have meekly not done it.
“You now have a very different approach from Number 10 in which ministers will do whatever they need to do to be successful, and will read the duty of sincere cooperation accordingly.”
Professor Catherine Barnard, senior fellow of The UK in a Changing Europe, said this was yet another sign that Downing Street was “testing the limits”.
“Clearly the EU didn’t respond last time and it would be odd to pick a fight over something that is important, but fairly obscure.
“But SPS is the hot topic, the most sensitive issue about any trade negotiation with the EU or the US, so it is politically huge.”
In theory, the Commission could suspend the Withdrawal Agreement and apply sanctions.
However, Ms Barnard said: “This is a carefully calibrated political dance, and they don’t want to try the nuclear option of engaging remedies so soon.
“We are not in the normal EU world anymore.”
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