Prepare for a No Deal, says PM
16th Oct 2020 / By Alistair Driver
Boris Johnson has urged the UK to 'get ready' for a No Deal Exit from the EU in two-and-a-half months from now.
The Prime Minister was speaking after his October 15 deadline for a trade deal with the EU passed with no sign of agreement – and both sides, inevitably, blaming each other.
“Given that they (the EU) have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, I have concluded we should get ready for January 1, with arrangements more like Australia's based on simple principles of global free trade,” he said.
"So now is the time for our businesses to get ready, and for hauliers to get ready, and for travellers to get ready.
"For whatever reason it is clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership they are not willing - unless there is some fundamental change of approach - to offer this country the same terms as Canada.
"And so with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative."
The PM’s spokesman went further, suggesting the ‘trade talks are over’, although he left the door open for EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, if he comes to London next week ‘prepared to discuss the issues… without the UK being required to make all the moves’.
The EU, in turn, wants compromise from the UK and Mr Barnier acknowledged that ‘real differences remain’, although he insisted ‘the negotiations aren’t over'.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said EU negotiators would seek to 'intensify' the talks in the coming days. She tweeted: "The EU continues to work for a deal but not at any price."
The UK pig sector faces disruption once the Transition Period ends on January 1, 2021, even if a deal is reached. There remain serious questions over live exports of breeding stock due to a lack of inspection facilities at Calais and other desinations, and lots if unresolved issues over meat exports, including the prospect of long queues in Kent and a lack of veterinary capacity.
But a No Deal Exit would almost certainly exacerbate the disruption and also mean the imposition of tariffs on pork exports, which would hurt the cull sow market, already hampered by COVID-19 plant disruption in Germany and the country's ASF outbreak.
A No Deal scenario with the EU would also increase the pressure on the Government to sign off trade deals with the likes of the US, with all the concerns that brings over import standards.
There is still time for a deal, if both sides are prepared to compromise. But, equally, No Deal is clearly a very realistic scenario.
Despite saying previously that a no deal Brexit would be a ‘failure of statecraft’, the Prime Minister sounded upbeat about the prospect, insisting 'we will prosper mightily as an independent free-trading nation’.
Whether or not that is the case, it would certainly present challenges for the UK pig sector.