South Africa

Newsdeck: Britain OK with basic Australia-type trade with EU if free-trade deal impossible – PM aide

BRUSSELS, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Britain is ready to trade with the European Union on basic international terms that the bloc currently follows with Australia if a more ambitious free trade agreement cannot be reached, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Europe adviser said.

By Gabriela Baczynska and John Chalmers

David Frost, speaking at a Brussels university, said that would be the case should the bloc insist that Britain follows EU rules and regulations in exchange for a free trade deal.

“We are not frightened by suggestions there will be trade frictions,” Frost said.

Britain would also not accept EU supervision of so-called level playing field guarantees of fair competition in any new relationship between the two, he said.

“It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us,” Frost said. “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.”

Frost, who described himself in the lecture as “one of the few Brexit voting diplomats” in the UK, said Britain would not extend the current, status-quo transition period after Brexit that runs until the end of this year.

Frost described how he started his early career in the EU hub Brussels as a euro-enthusiast but soon became disillusioned with the bloc’s institutions.

He said that any easing of the Johnson government’s Brexit stance would not be supported by the general public at home and that the EU must treat Britain as an equal if it wants to have a “durable and sustainable” new partnership. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska Editing by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie)