Britain ‘won’t blink’ in crunch Brexit talks this week and UK will never become EU ‘client state’, top negotiator vows

BRITAIN won't "blink" in crunch Brexit talks this week and the country will never become an EU "client state", the PM's top negotiator has vowed.

Lord Frost said the Government was not "scared" of walking away from talks without a trade deal.

Britain's chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, in a bullish interview with the Mail on Sunday, warned the UK would leave the transition period "come what may".

That's even if it means exiting with no deal, which officials have dubbed a so-called "Australian-style" arrangement.

Lord Frost said the EU "have not accepted that in key areas of our national life we want to be able to control our own laws and do things our way and use the freedoms that come after Brexit."

He vowed: "We are not going to be a client state.

"We are not going to compromise on the fundamentals of having control over our own laws."

Informal talks this week between Michel Barnier and Lord Frost failed to find a breakthrough before the eighth round of formal negotiations, which begin on Monday.


Both sides want a deal agreed next month to have it signed off by politicians on both sides of the Channel by the end of the transition period on December 31.

But they can't agree on issues such as fishing and how much taxpayer support the UK will provide for businesses as a result of splitting from the bloc.

Lord Frost – Boris Johnson's top security adviser – also said Theresa May's administration had allowed Brussels to believe there could be an 11th hour concession on a trade deal.

He said: "We came in after a Government and negotiating team that had blinked and had its bluff called at critical moments and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously.

"So a lot of what we are trying to do this year is to get them to realise that we mean what we say and they should take our position seriously."

The former diplomat ruled out accepting level playing field terms.

He's against any deal which "lock us into the way the EU do things" and argued that wanting control over the country's money and affairs "should not be controversial".

He said: "That's what being an independent country is about.

"That's what the British people voted for and that's what will happen at the end of the year, come what may."

Downing Street has reportedly created a transition hub, with handpicked officials across Government departments working to ensure the UK is ready to trade without a deal when the transition period ceases on January 1, 2021.

The unit will work with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who has led the Government's work on no-deal preparations since last year.

Lord Frost said that with plenty of preparation done last year, no one was "scared" of a no-deal outcome "at all".

He added: "We want to get back the powers to control our borders and that is the most important thing.

"If we can reach an agreement that regulates trade like Canada's, great.

"If we can't, it will be an Australian-like trading agreement and we are fully ready for that."

France, meanwhile, has denied that Barnier was about to be sidelined by EU leaders in a bid to break the deadlock in trade talks, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The paper said on Friday that Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, was to pave the way for heads of EU countries to intervene in the talks.

But, twisting a famous British war slogan, European affairs minister Clement Beaune tweeted on Saturday: "Keep calm and support Michel Barnier".


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