Boris Johnson has told his Cabinet colleagues the UK stands “ready and willing” to walk away from Brexit talks without an agreement.
With just two days to go before the final slated EU summit on Brexit, Mr Johnson told senior ministers he was ready to “move forward” with an “Australian-style outcome” if Brussels refused to budge on fisheries.
Most of Australia’s exports to the EU are subject to tariffs and quotas set under basic World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms
The comments come as Michael Roth, Angela Merkel’s Europe minister, said time was running out to conclude a deal and suggested the UK would have to give further ground on fishing rights, “level playing field” arrangements such as state subsidies, and the way any deal would be governed.
At the Luxembourg General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting, Mr Roth said: “Frankly speaking, we are at a very critical stage in the negotiations. We are extremely under pressure, time is running out.
“That’s why we expect substantial progress by our friends from the UK in key areas.”
Mr Roth added: “We are well-prepared for both scenarios, everybody should know that a no-deal scenario is the worst case, not just for the European Union but also for the United Kingdom, but we are also prepared for that.
“But we are working very hard on a good deal, on a sustainable deal which is acceptable for both sides.”
‘Australian-style outcome holds no fear’
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier suggested today that talks would go on beyond Mr Johnson’s October 15 deadline.
“The EU will continue to work for a fair deal in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
Responding to the comments, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM has made clear on calls to EU leaders that time is in short supply.
“The PM has reiterated that, while we want a deal on the right terms, if we can’t get there we are ready and willing to move forward with an Australian-style outcome, which holds no fear.”