The UK has been warned that it will face a tough battle during Brexit trade talks.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian said: “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 added that “everyone will defend their own interests”, describing it as part of negotiations.
The Munich Security Conference is one of the largest annual gatherings of world leaders, but this year the UK government was absent. Boris Johnson was offered a key slot at the conference but reportedly turned it down.
The warning by Mr le Drian is not the first signal from the EU that negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal could be difficult. The EU has repeatedly warned the UK that it cannot keep many of the benefits it currently holds if it insists on moving away from EU standards.
The UK is currently in a transition period, following its departure from the EU on January 31. The transition period runs up until December 31 and is designed to allow the UK and EU time to negotiate a trade agreement, although some fear that the time frame will prove too short. During the period, the UK continues to follow EU rules but does not have a say in how they operate.
Speaking in Brussels, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has set out the UK’s initial negotiating stance, with negotiations set to begin next month. David Frost said the UK “must have the ability to set laws that suit us”, noting that this was not “a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project”
More details on the UK’s vision for its future relationship with the EU are expected to be released next week.
Photo Credit: European Union