Dominic Raab, UK foreign secretary, has told his officials to break up with their former allies without delay, The Sunday Times reported citing a leaked document, specifying that he instructed them to “sit separately” from their EU counterparts at international summits.
The document brings up an earlier telegram from Raab to diplomatic missions, sent last week, in which he reportedly told diplomats to dampen efforts to “seek residual influence” with EU countries and “adopt a stance as a confident independent country”.
The leak comes amid a potentially stiffened debate on post-Brexit trade-offs with Brussels, as Boris Johnson is preparing a landmark speech for Monday, in which he will reportedly set out his rejection of the possibility of extending trades talks.
The prime minister is expected to explicitly outline his negotiating goals at upcoming EU gatherings and will reportedly warn the EU that failure to agree upon a comprehensive deal by the end of the year would automatically bring about tariffs on a number of popular EU goods.
A so-called “Canada-style free trade deal", as PM Johnson referred to it last Monday, is currently a talking point, with the debate centering on if the same rules for Canada, which has conspicuously less trade ties with the EU than Britain, can effectively apply to the UK.
Such a deal would stipulate that the majority of goods traded between the EU and UK would be duty free and which would guarantee that Britain would finalise its transition as scheduled, before 31 December 2020.
The prime minister is also expected to rule out EU calls to retain access to the UK’s fishing waters, as well as to allow the European Court of Justice oversee the final trade deal.
Britain formally departed from the European bloc on 31 January, at 11 p.m. three and a half years after a referendum in which voters chose to leave the EU.
The development has ushered in a whole new stage, a post-Brexit one, in which regulatory specifics, as well as customs rules and trade details are to be negotiated, to arrive at a definite roadmap for a smooth economic transition.