Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost insists UK will not budge on setting its own laws

Jacob Jarvis
REUTERS

Britain's chief Brexit negotiator has insisted the UK being able to set its own laws is a "fundamental" point for departing the bloc.

David Frost, the prime minister's Europe adviser, will use a major speech in Brussels to hit back at the EU's push for alignment in certain aspects, so as to stifle trade competition.

The bloc has long insisted that the extent of access Britain has to the single market will be dependent on how much Britain follows EU rules. While the Government has insisted some divergence will be necessary in fulfilling its post-Brexit vision.

“We bring to the negotiations not some clever tactical positioning but the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country," Mr Frost is expected to use a lecture to students and academics at the Universite libre de Bruxelles.

Boris Johnson has insisted the transition period will end this year (REUTERS)

“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.

“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."

He will also insist that Britain will refuse any extension to the transition period, which the EU has also called for in order to facilitate negotiations.

“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," he is expected to say.

It comes as French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian predicted a bruising battle on a post-Brexit deal.

“I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart,” he said.

“But that is part of negotiations, everyone will defend their own interests.”

Mr le Drian, a close ally of president Emmanuel Macron, is the latest senior EU figure to warn that the negotiations will be difficult.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and chief negotiator Michel Barnier have both cast doubt on Mr Johnson’s aim to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year, which is when the Brexit transition period runs out.

The EU has repeatedly warned Britain cannot expect to enjoy continued “high-quality” market access should it insist on diverging from EU social and environmental standards.

There is expected to be a particularly tough fight over fishing rights, with the EU insisting continued access to UK waters must form part of any agreement.

Additional reporting by PA.

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