18:03 GMT23 November 2020
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    It’s been reported by the Express Newspaper that Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received a Brexit trade deal warning, from the US president-elect Joe Biden, in the pair’s first telephone call.

    Biden reportedly reiterated that peace in Ireland must not be compromised by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, following the defeat of the Prime Minister’s Internal Market Bill in the House of Lords. Brexit Party’s Deputy Campaign Manager for the West Midlands Pete Durnell reflects on what is known about this Johnson-Biden conversation.

    Sputnik: Is the influence of Joe Biden on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, being dramatically overstated by the mainstream media, considering he's not officially even president?

    Pete  Durnell: I think there's not much doubt that Joe Biden has been seen by some, shall we call them former remainers, as one of their last hopes of keeping us closely tied to the EU - even if technically, obviously, we're no longer a member state. So, that's why we've seen John Major and his friends popping up all over the place but I'd say there are two main reasons why I think yes, it is being considerably overstated, and those are number one; any free trade agreement with the US was never going to be easy or quick. Whatever Trump wanted, it had to go through, or it would have to go through the House of Representatives, which remains Democrat-controlled and they have said, pretty categorically, they're likely to block it. So, to lose that we're not really losing much because essentially that was always the case, it was going to be a struggle to get it. The second thing is I think the US and the UK, you know largely are free traders, we believe in free trade. We're not instinctively protectionist on the whole. So, in other words, what I'm saying is, we don't necessarily need a free trade agreement with the United States. Yes, it would be nice to have it but we don't necessarily need it.

    European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wears a protective face mask as he arrives at 1VS conference centre ahead of Brexit negotiations in London, Britain October 24, 2020.
    © REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS
    European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wears a protective face mask as he arrives at 1VS conference centre ahead of Brexit negotiations in London, Britain October 24, 2020.

    Sputnik: Following the recent Internal Market Bill defeat in the House of Lords, can we expect Britain's Prime Minister to take a softer approach and concede to US and EU demands?

    Pete Durnell: Personally, I've never really believed this government is fully committed to the kind of clean-break Brexit that I think that we voted for in June 2016. There's obviously a few in it that are, but most of its members aren't. So, I would say ultimately, we know that the EU is going to take negotiations to the wire, and in any negotiation, the side which gets the better deal is the one which holds it nerve the longest. So, I would say the Internal Market Bill, Joe Biden taking the presidency... I think it's going to be potentially used as excuses to a degree but I do also believe that Boris was bluntly going to blink first and concede quite a few things, though I don't see either of them making a huge difference. I think we will concede quite a lot of fishing water access, maybe put off the quotas for another year or two, carry on as we are. I think we'll probably concede on the state aid and all that goes with that - basically the level playing field so to speak. So, in other words, what I'm saying really is I’ve always believed we were probably going to blink under Boris and essentially these other things are side issues because that is what will probably happen. I'm not happy about it, because I am a great believer in Brexit and being an independent sovereign nation. So, I think we're going to see a deal signed in the next few weeks, and then the Tories rushing out to go and buy as much lipstick as they can, so they can plaster it all over it to dress it up basically.

    Sputnik: What sort of approach can we expect to see from Johnson to ensure the influence of Washington and Brussels doesn't compromise the aims and legacy of Brexit, that a majority of Britons voted for?

    Pete Durnell: I don't think this is going to be his approach but the approach that I would certainly like to see is that, and it's also being reported in the Express and other newspapers, is the potential damage the German car industry is going to incur if we don't have a free trade agreement. They do something like 8 billion pounds a year trade with us - BMW is already suffering. Obviously, we know that they're concerned in various countries; France, Germany [and] Holland about their fishing industries. So I would like to see us really highlighting the need from both sides to ideally get an agreement; I do think we'll be fine under WTO rules, but basically, I think we should be highlighting more of that and also at the same time, as I said, we can manage just great if we fully prepare for going on to WTO trading/WTO rules. So, I'd like to see us basically, obviously taking a bit more of a firm stance and making it clear we are prepared to walk away, and we don't need to be essentially put back under the EU's thumb in return for the free trade agreement. Will we see it from Boris Johnson? As I’ve already said really, I'm sadly rather doubtful of it so, we'll find out. The good news is really, I think we're going to find out in the next two or three weeks exactly what kind of free trade agreement gets signed because I do think they'll sign it. The bad news is I think we will definitely probably be fighting for it for quite a few years to come.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    Northern Ireland, Brexit, US, United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, Joe Biden
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