Britain on Sunday began to detail a hard-line stance in upcoming negotiations with the European Union on future relations, following its historic departure from the bloc. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who will embark on a tour of Asia and Australia this week as he looks to pave the way for global trade deals, warned that London will not accept alignment with EU rules.
He also insisted that European courts could have no jurisdiction over Britain beyond the 11-month Brexit transition period that runs to the end of the year.
We're not going to be aligning with EU rules, that's not on the negotiating table ... it is not even in the negotiating room, Raab told the BBC.
We will not be insisting that they align with our rules as a price for a free trade deal he added in a separate interview with Sky News. That's not the way free trade deals are done.
But in a sign of the potentially fraught nature of the high-stakes talks, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar urged London to tone down the kind of nationalistic rhetoric.
Britain should avoid repeating the past mistake of insisting on rigid red lines which makes it hard to come to an agreement, he said.
In speeches by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, each side will set out its position on Monday. British newspapers reported on Sunday that the government was readying for a bruising battle, and unwilling to offer many of the compromises set to be demanded by the bloc.
The euro skeptic Sunday Telegraph said Johnson was privately infuriated at perceived EU attempts to frustrate a comprehensive free trade deal.
Raab acknowledged there was a bit of frustration in London that commitments seen as already agreed in the initial Brexit divorce deal were not being lived up to”.
Johnson, a polarizing figure accused of glossing over the complexity of leaving the EU, is in a rush to seal an agreement. He has vowed not to extend the transition phase, giving himself just 11 months to find consensus on everything from fishing to finance - not enough time, according to his critics.
The British premier wants to pursue a minimal trade deal - dubbed Canada-style, in reference to the EU's existing agreement with Ottawa - that envisages zero tariffs and quotas on goods.
But Britain makes no binding commitment on maintaining EU standards. EU negotiators, who fear being undercut on their own doorstep, consider that far too narrow for an important neighbor like Britain.
Barnier has warned that some items will have to be a priority and wants handshakes on fisheries, internal and external security and, above all, trade in goods.
London is also now free to strike trade agreements around the world, including with the United States, whose President Donald Trump is an enthusiastic Brexit supporter.