ENTERTAINMENT

Boris Johnson's chief negotiator warns the EU that Britain will not become a "customer state" of Brussels


Britain will not "blink" in the tight Brexit talks this week, Boris Johnson's chief negotiator said in a significant increase in pressure on Brussels.

In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Lord Frost warned his EU counterpart Michel Barnier that Britain would not become a "customer state" of Brussels by accepting restrictions on fishing rights and vetoes of our laws.

His comments come ahead of Mr Barnier's arrival in London for a new round of talks on Tuesday. The two sides only have a few weeks to finalize a legally binding agreement that must be in place by December 31st if a no-deal Brexit is to be avoided.

In the interview – his first since his appointment in January – Lord Frost said the EU needs to recognize that Mr Johnson's administration is more steely and determined than Theresa May's.

Britain will not "blink" this week at the Brexit talks, said Boris Johnson's negotiator, pictured in a clear increase in pressure on Brussels

He said: “We came after a government and negotiation team that blinked and called their bluff at critical moments and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously.

"We're trying to do a lot this year to make them realize that we mean what we say and that they should take our position seriously."

To demonstrate the government's willingness to accept No Deal, the Prime Minister has set up a transition hub # 10 where officials from all key departments are "working at pace" to prepare for the trade without any precaution. The unit of hand-picked officials from across Whitehall will work with Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove, who has led the government's work on no-deal preparations since last year.

Lord Frost said the EU "has not accepted that in key areas of our national life we ​​want to be able to control our own laws and do things our way and use the freedoms that come after Brexit".

& # 39; We will not be a customer state. We will not compromise on the basics of control over our own laws.

“We are not going to accept a level playing field rules that bind us to the way the EU does things. We are not going to accept regulations that give them control over our money or the way we can organize things here in the UK and that shouldn't be controversial – that's what it's about being an independent country, that's what that has British people voted and therefore Whatever will happen at the end of the year, whatever. & # 39;

Michel Barnier (right) and David Frost imagined getting to the Brexit trade talks last month. Comments come ahead of Mr Barnier's arrival in London for a new round of talks on Tuesday

Michel Barnier (right) and David Frost imagined getting to the Brexit trade talks last month. Comments come ahead of Mr Barnier's arrival in London for a new round of talks on Tuesday

The bullish Brexit rhetoric is part of an attempt by Mr Johnson's # 10 to put the agenda back on the agenda after a chaotic summer marked by an endless series of U-turns on topics like Covid politics and A-level exam grades with Tory Getting a grip on backers expressing growing concern over the professionalism of the Prime Minister's Downing Street operation.

Meanwhile on another feverish day in politics:

  • Mr Johnson attempted to counter the ongoing criticism of the lack of Covid testing at UK borders by considering replacing the economically ruinous 14-day quarantine period with testing after eight days.
  • When the UK recorded 1,813 new coronavirus infections and 12 more deaths yesterday, figures from Public Health England showed that the highest case rates were among 15 to 44 year olds, with young working adults between the ages of 20 and 29 on most likely affected ;;
  • Mr Johnson's efforts to encourage workers to return to the office were undermined by the newspaper's discovery that the public service was listing new jobs as "work from home" positions.
  • Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned environmental protesters blocking newspaper presses as "totally unacceptable" and called on advisors to develop stricter laws to cope with the Extinction Rebellion group's actions.
  • Hundreds of anti-immigration protesters clashed with police in Dover after 409 desperate asylum seekers crossed the canal in one day.

This week's Brexit talks – the eighth round – mark the final phase of the negotiations. Lord Frost's team is calling for "more realism" on the EU side in order to overcome the impasse.

Mr Barnier's refusal to accept an increase in the amount of fish the UK can get from its own waters and insistence on a Brussels veto on taxpayer support for business have made a no deal exit more likely, according to the government made as a deal sources. They blamed the EU's "self-imposed parallelism" doctrine and "refusal to sort out the simplest issues first, even though we were ready to pick up the pace and get into the lengthy discussions on legal texts. The source added:" We hope that more ambitions come from the EU this week. "

A source close to the negotiations said: “We stepped up talks in July to get a full view of an agreement this summer. Because of the EU's repeated refusal to accept that we have to do things our own way in key areas, which reflects our new status as a sovereign, independent country, these difficult discussions continue. We are now facing a critical round of negotiations.

“The EU must also recognize that we are serious about leaving with an Australian-style trade relationship and regaining our independence as a sovereign nation if we cannot find acceptable terms.

The bullish Brexit rhetoric is part of an attempt by Boris Johnson's # 10 to get the agenda back on track after a chaotic summer marked by an endless series of U-turns (Image: PM Sept. 2).

The bullish Brexit rhetoric is part of an attempt by Boris Johnson's # 10 to get the agenda back on track after a chaotic summer marked by an endless series of U-turns (Image: PM Sept. 2).

“The entire government has prepared extensively to ensure that businesses and citizens are ready for the end of the transition period in any scenario. Outside the customs union, outside the internal market and outside the EU. "

Lord Frost said, “Obviously a lot of preparations have been made over the last year, we are going up again and have been under the authority of Michael Gove for some time.

“I don't think we're afraid of it at all.

“We want to get back the powers to control our borders and that is the most important thing.

& # 39; If we can get an agreement that does trade like we did in Canada, great. If we can't, it will be an Australian trade deal and we are fully prepared for it. & # 39;

Ms. May was not available for comment last night.

"We want the EU to recognize that we mean what we say": Boris Johnson's chief negotiator for Brexit, David Frost, attacks ex-Prime Minister Theresa May for "bluffing" when he was talking to him Brussels urges to take Britain seriously

By Glen Owen for the mail on Sunday

David Frost rose quietly – almost invisibly – to take an epoch-defining position in the government of Boris Johnson. While Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove seek to be the Prime Minister's "managing directors", Lord Frost has been given the dual responsibility of leading Britain's post-Brexit trade negotiations with the EU and serving as Mr Johnson's national security advisor.

It's a daunting in-tray for anyone, let alone someone who is still suffering from such after-effects of the coronavirus infection they contracted in March that they gasp for breath while jogging.

The addition of Lord Frost's security letter is also a signal to Brussels that Downing Street expects the negotiations to be concluded soon so Lord Frost can focus on the threats posed by Russia and China.

When his new job was announced in June, it sparked a sharp reaction from Theresa May, who referred to him as "a political officer with no proven national security expertise".

In his first interview since the start of his duel with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, Lord Frost gives Ms. May cold retaliation.

With deadly understatement, Lord Frost contrasts Mr Johnson's gung-ho stance with the tortuous - and ultimately doomed - attempts of his predecessor to strike a deal

With deadly understatement, Lord Frost contrasts Mr Johnson's gung-ho stance with the tortuous – and ultimately doomed – attempts of his predecessor to strike a deal

With deadly understatement, he contrasts Mr Johnson's gung-ho stance with the tortuous – and ultimately doomed – attempts of his predecessor to strike a deal, and says his "great job" was to "reset the credibility of our words " Administration.

Lord Frost made it clear that the British side will not "blink first" when the eighth round of talks begins in London on Tuesday. He said, "We came in after a government and negotiation team that blinked and called their bluff at critical moments." and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously.

"We're trying hard this year to make them realize that we mean what we say and that they should take our position seriously."

There have been many “crisis periods” since the 2016 referendum, but the weeks ahead promise to be the crispest of them all.

Mr Barnier, who will land in the UK just hours after Lord Frost took over the Lords seat from Mr Johnson, has hit both sides on an impasse over fishing rights and government subsidies to businesses.

If a deal can't be signed by December, one of the many effects of No Deal could be a revival of the 1970s “Cod Wars” when Royal Navy ships patrol our sovereign fishing waters.

Barnier's stubbornness during the summer's Zoom negotiations has led to murmurs in European capitals that he was brushed aside in favor of leaders like German Angela Merkel.

Lord Frost, 55, a former diplomat who has risen to become British Ambassador to Norway, chooses his words with professional care, but clearly simmers about the EU's tenacity. "They did not accept that in key areas of our national life we ​​want to be able to control our own laws, do things our way and use the freedoms that come after Brexit," he says.

& # 39; We will not be a customer state. We will not compromise on the basics of control over our own laws. We will not accept any level playing field rules that bind us to the way the EU does things. We are not going to accept regulations that give them control over our money or the way we can organize things here in the UK and that shouldn't be controversial – that's what it's about being an independent country, that's what that has British people voted and therefore whatever may come will happen by the end of the year '.

In his first interview since the beginning of his duel with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, Lord Frost Theresa May delivered cold retaliation (picture, file photo).

In his first interview since the beginning of his duel with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, Lord Frost Theresa May delivered cold retaliation (picture, file photo).

Barnier flatly refuses to comply with British demands for an increase in the quota for British vessels in our own waters, calling them a "common resource".

Lord Frost seems baffled that nine months after the post-Brexit transition, the EU has still not "internalized" the fact that Britain intends to be an "independent sovereign nation".

He says, “Let's hope the end of the year focuses on them because that's a tough deadline. I think the EU is used to being in negotiations where they can go on indefinitely, when there is no set deadline, they hold onto one position and it is really up to the other side to move.

“What we want, namely the restoration of our own sovereignty and freedom as a country, will happen at the end of the year, whether the EU likes it or not. They are not used to such negotiations.

"I think they spend too much time guessing what our intentions are and not enough time listening to our words."

It has been claimed that # 10 does not set the chance of a deal higher than a percent. "I don't get to percentages," is all Lord Frost will say.

Fish seems to be the biggest stumbling block.

"At the moment the EU is not taking part in this discussion," says Lord Frost, before embarking on a little joke: "They want to continue the status quo – they want their fish cake and they want to eat it."

He adds: “The gap is wide and the constructive discussions about it have not yet started, but there are fundamentals that we will not compromise on and there has to be a big difference for our fishermen. We have to control access to our waters in the future and we will.

The freedom to support young tech companies is a central theme for Dominic Cummings (picture dated September 2).

The freedom to support young tech companies is a central theme for Dominic Cummings (picture dated September 2).

"Michel quite often says that we accept that you are an independent coastal state but don't draw any legal conclusions from that."

Could we see the Royal Navy on patrol in January? "I don't want to comment on how we will control our waters, but it will be our job to control our waters and provide access to our waters if there is no fisheries agreement."

Almost as unsolvable as Fisch is the question of government subsidies to businesses: UK negotiators say the EU insists on retaining power to prevent the government from providing taxpayer money to private companies.

The freedom to support young tech companies is a key issue for Johnson's powerful advisor Dominic Cummings, who plans to pour £ 800m into high-risk, high-reward UK research to prevent overseas giants like Apple from dominating the market.

Lord Frost says: “We will not agree to any agreement that leaves the EU with some say over what we do with our money. We will not accept this type of control because it was not about Brexit.

He also explains that he is "totally in step" with Mr Johnson's view that the UK has nothing to fear from No Deal – despite contingency planning in the Cabinet Office for a "perfect storm" of a second wave of Covid-19 which coincides with a no deal Brexit that includes power shortages, gasoline queues and military air drops of food.

He says: “Obviously a lot of preparations have been made in the last year, we are going up again and have been under the authority of Michael Gove for some time.

“I don't think we're afraid of it at all.

“We want to get back the powers to control our borders and that is the most important thing.

& # 39; If we can get an agreement that does trade like we did in Canada, great. If we can't, it will be an Australian trade deal and we are fully prepared for it. & # 39;

Lord Frost left the civil service in 2013 to join the Scotch Whiskey Association. A rare Whitehall Brexiteer, however, he was lured back by Mr Johnson as an advisor when he became Secretary of State and has been a close member of his inner circle ever since.

He brushes aside questions about the Tory backbank's discomfort with Operation # 10 after a series of U-turns – "it's a very professional operation" – and decisions like the appointment of "homophobic" former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as trade advisor – " this is not my patch so I don't want to comment '.

Lord Frost, who is married to his second wife Harriet and has two children from his first marriage, studied medieval European history at Oxford, a time marked by epidemics and wars.

"In my opinion, medieval history is just as important to decisions as newer ones," he says. "You can learn a lot."

So what does the EU need to learn?

"You need a model for dealing with independent states on the European continent," he says. "They are struggling to refer to us as an independent sovereign state."

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