Brexit latest: Boris Johnson to enrage EU by abandoning part of deal he signed and rejecting alignment ahead of crunch talks

Jacob Jarvis
AFP via Getty Images

Boris Johnson is set to enrage EU leaders by abandoning part of the Brexit agreement he signed and rejecting calls for alignment in a trade deal.

The bloc laid out its position on Tuesday, reiterating calls for a level playing field between Britain and the EU27, with the UK to outline its stance today.

European figureheads have insisted access to the single market could hinge upon shared standards.

But, despite the risk of derailing talks, Britain is expected to ignore their demands.

Boris Johnson is to call for divergence on EU laws (Getty Images)

A Downing Street source said: “The Prime Minister is working to a mandate which derives from his manifesto which set out very clear what he would be seeking in the negotiations, also set out what would not be acceptable to the UK, and that whatever happens at the end of this year, the UK will be regaining in full its political and economic independence.”

This comes after the PM previously signed a Political Declaration with the EU in 2019, which accepted there should be “robust commitments to ensure a level playing field”.

The agreement would impact areas including state subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental standards.

Michel Barnier has repeatedly called for alignment (REUTERS)

However, Downing Street insiders have suggested the mandate won by the PM at the last election overrides what was agreed with the EU.

In the Tory manifesto, Mr Johnson promised “no political alignment” with the EU, an end to the role of the European Court of Justice and “full control” of the UK’s fishing waters.

The UK's mandate is expected to be laid out later today by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove.

Mr Johnson, whose Europe adviser David Frost has rejected the notion of alignment, is set to push for a Canada-style trade deal.

This is despite Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, downplaying such a possibility.

Yesterday, Mr Barnier issued a fresh warning that the UK must accept common standards with the bloc if it wants continued preferential access to European markets.

Speaking to an ESCP business school seminar in Brussels, Mr Barnier said: “We are ready to offer to the UK super-preferential access to our markets – a level of access that would be unprecedented for a third country.

“Is this something we can do without firm guarantees that the UK will respect the level playing field and avoid unfair competitive advantages? The answer, I’m afraid, is simple. We cannot.”

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Brexit battle lines drawn as EU leaders challenge PM on bloc standards