Boris Johnson today shrugged off European claims the UK has been “disrespectful” of Brussels during Brexit trade negotiations.
The accusation came from the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, as the latest round of talks broke up early this week.
The Prime Minister insisted: “I am not remotely disrespectful of Michel or of the EU system, which I know well and understand deeply.”
Outlining the Government’s objections to the bloc’s demands for a trade pact, the PM said: “I just don’t think that it is right for us to proceed on the basis of the European Court of Justice continuing to arbitrate in the UK or us continuing to have to obey EU law even when we are out of the EU, or us having to hand over our amazing fish stocks.
“We’re not going to do those things.”
He went on: “We now need to make sure that we get a good deal.”
While Britain formally left the bloc on January 31, exit triggered a transition to allow time to agree a trade deal.
A deadline for extending the 11-month transition has passed – piling pressure on negotiators to strike an agreement.
Officials have until December 31 to secure a trade pact, with Britain due to leave the EU single market and customs union in less than six months.
Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost said the latest talks “underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues”.
Mr Barnier continued to believe an agreement was possible and in everyone’s interest, but the French diplomat added: “After four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.
“The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement.
“We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”
But the PM said: “Actually… I’m a bit more optimistic than Michel is there, there is a good agreement to be reached but obviously if we can’t then we will have the very good option also of an Australian-style arrangement.”
Australia does not have a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU.
Much of EU-Australia trade follows default World Trade Organisation rules, though specific agreements are in place for certain goods.