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UPDATE 4-UK warns EU on Brexit: We won't blink first

Sun, 6th Sep 2020 08:06

* Brexit trade talks due to resume on Tuesday

* UK won't be locked into EU ways - UK negotiator

* UK has prepared for exit without deal - negotiator
(Adds UK Foreign Secretary)

By Guy Faulconbridge and Gabriela Baczynska

LONDON/BRUSSELS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Britain will not blink
first in Brexit trade negotiations with the European Union and
is not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year, the
country's top Brexit negotiator warned the bloc on Sunday.

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but talks have so far made
little headway on agreeing a new trade deal for when a
status-quo transition arrangement ends in December.

"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," negotiator David
Frost told the Mail on Sunday.

"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," he was quoted as saying.

Talks are due to resume in London on Tuesday but they have
stalled over Britain's insistence that it have full autonomy
over state aid and its demands over fishing.

Britain says the EU is dragging its feet in talks and has
failed to fully accept that it is now an independent country.

"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," Frost told the Mail. "We are not going to accept level
playing field provisions that lock us in to the way the EU do
things."

"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," Frost said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the week ahead
would be a wake-up call for the EU.

"We've got to a position where there's only two points
really that are holding us back," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr
programme.

UK fisheries had been "pretty much decimated" as a result of
EU membership, he said, and the bloc wanted to keep British
access to its waters "permanently low".

"That can't be right," he said.

On state aid, Raab said Britain had led the charge against
government intervention since the 1980s, but the issue was "an
absolutely critical element of policy making".

At heart, Britain is pressing one of the EU’s most sensitive
buttons – the fear that a post-Brexit Britain could become a
much more agile, deregulated free-market competitor on its
border by using selective state aid.

"More and more people have come to the conclusion that
Brexit ideology trumps Brexit pragmatism in the UK government,"
said one EU diplomat.

"If the UK really wanted to jump off the Brexit cliff edge
for ideological reasons, there would be no way for the EU to
stop this," the diplomat said. "If, on the other hand, the UK’s
approach became more pragmatic and realistic, there would
probably be a good chance to save the negotiations and agree on
a deal."

Frost said a lot of preparation had been done for a possible
exit without a trade deal.

"I don't think that we are scared of this at all," Frost
said. "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."
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle in London and
Padraic Halpin in Dublin
Editing by William Schomberg and Mark Potter)

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