Chief Brexit negotiator says UK won’t accept EU's 'level playing field' in trade talks

Written by Anahita Hossein-Pour on 18 February 2020 in News
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David Frost says the UK will not extend the transition period beyond the end of December as “at that point we recover our political and economic independence in full”

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The government’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned Brussels the UK will not accept the EU’s call for “level playing field” regulation in future trade talks.

David Frost said such a demand “fails to see the point of what we are doing” as the UK leaves the European Union.

In his first public intervention since Britain left the bloc on January 31, the head of the government’s Taskforce Europe – who is employed as a special adviser after replacing civil servant Sir Olly Robbins when Boris Johnson became prime minister but is a former Foreign Office official – said: “It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us, to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has. 


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“So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.  It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project.”

Speaking at the Université libre de Bruxelles, Frost argued the only way forward is to build a “relationship of equals” and use open and fair competition between the parties to navigate “highly sensitive areas” of each side’s jurisdiction and democratic consent.

"Boris Johnson’s speech in greenwich two weeks ago set out a record of consistently high standards of regulation and behaviour in the UK, in many cases better than EU norms or practice," he said.

"How would you feel if the UK demanded that, to protect ourselves, the EU dynamically harmonise with our national laws set in Westminster and the decisions of our own regulators and courts?"

The former diplomat and one-time ambassador to Denmark added: “So if it is true, as we hear from our friends in the Commission and the 27, that the EU wants a durable and sustainable relationship in this highly sensitive area, the only way forward is to build on this approach of a relationship of equals.”

Frost also reiterated Johnson’s position that the UK will not extend the transition period beyond December 2020.

The comments come as French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned the UK is unlikely to achieve a future trade agreement with the bloc by the end of the year.

But on reaching a deal by December, Frost added: “At that point we recover our political and economic independence in full – why would we want to postpone it?

“In short, we only want what other independent countries have

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Anahita Hossein-Pour
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Anahita Hossein-Pour is a reporter for PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared.

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