Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 9, 2020.

POOL/Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday there was “a strong possibility” Britain and the European Union would fail to strike a new trade deal, but vowed to do whatever he could to avoid a tumultuous split in three weeks.

The EU and Britain are at loggerheads over fishing rights, economic fair play and dispute settlement, despite months of talks to cover trade from Jan. 1 when the United Kingdom finally exits the bloc’s orbit.

The two sides have set a deadline of Sunday to find agreement and prevent a chaotic break.

Story continues below advertisement

After a meeting with his senior ministers, Mr. Johnson said the treaty on the table did not work for Britain.

“We need to be very, very clear there’s now a strong possibility, strong possibility that we will have a solution that’s much more like an Australian relationship with the EU, than a Canadian relationship with the EU,” Mr. Johnson said.

Australia, unlike Canada, has no comprehensive trade deal with the EU, leaving its trade mostly subject to tariffs. Mr. Johnson uses the comparison to suggest a deal is not necessary, although Australia has only a fraction of Britain’s trade with Europe.

Under such a scenario, Britain would see trade barriers imposed with the EU, its main economic partner, in just three weeks.

Sterling dropped against the U.S. dollar to US$1.3262 on the remarks, down from around US$1.33. It was last almost 0.9 per cent lower on the day at US$1.3274.

Mr. Johnson spoke as the 27 national EU leaders met in Brussels and the bloc’s chief executive, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, said bridging the persistent differences in U.K. trade talks was “difficult.”

“We are willing to grant access to our single market … but the conditions have to be fair,” she said. “This fine balance of fairness has not been achieved so far.”

Story continues below advertisement

“FAIRNESS” VS “SOVEREIGNTY”

The British Prime Minister, who campaigned for Brexit on the platform of regaining Britain’s sovereignty, said the issue was the EU insisting on tying Britain to the bloc’s future labour, social and environmental standards, as well as state aid rules.

The EU wants a so-called “ratchet clause” to ensure that Britain matches any future improvements in EU standards, to keep access to its market.

“No-deal would not be a good thing but a bad deal would be even worse. Giving access to the common European Union market … should be on a level playing field,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said.

Earlier on Thursday, the bloc set out its contingency plans for an abrupt split in ties to keep “certain air services” between Britain and the EU, basic connections by road freight and for road passengers for six months if the U.K. reciprocated.

Britain would examine the proposals, a government spokeswoman said. But London quickly rebuked the Commission’s offer to keep reciprocal access to fishing waters for a year.

While Mr. Johnson said the public and businesses needed to ready themselves for the prospect of no deal, he kept alive the prospect an accord could still be found.

Story continues below advertisement

“I will go to Brussels, I will go to Paris or go to Berlin or wherever, to try to get this home and get to a deal,” he said.

Britain left the EU in January and has since been in a transition period, with rules on trade, travel and business unchanged. That ends on Dec. 31.

If by then there is no agreement to protect around US$1-trillion in annual trade from tariffs and quotas, businesses on both sides will suffer.

In a sign of potential disruption ahead, trucks heading toward the English port of Dover were stacked up for miles on Thursday, with Brexit stockpiling and pre-Christmas traffic blamed.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies