UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed in a speech that London will not "undermine EU standards" and will not engage in dumping, "whether commercial or social or environmental", while negotiating new post-Brexit trade deals. While Johnson assured that the UK is not intending to enforce its own views on the EU about how free trade should look, he was still critical of certain economic policies of some European states.
"Look at state aid, France spends twice as much on state aid as the UK, Germany three times as much. Who is using subsidies to undercut? Not the UK", he said.
The prime minister added that London is not planning on following EU regulations under a future free trade agreement, but promised to still uphold "the highest standards" in terms of competition policy, subsidies, social protection, and the environment. He instead suggested coming up with a "smooth and unintrusive" method of resolving trade differences outside of the European Court of Justice.
The British prime minister went on to say that he will be negotiating on behalf of the "UK family", including Gibraltar, in the trade talks. He further stated that negotiating a new trade deal with Australia is among London's top four priorities right now.
Johnson also defended the free trade approach to economic relations between countries, arguing that it has recently come under intense attacks from protectionists. He namely slammed Brussels, Beijing, and Washington for aggressively imposing tariffs on the goods of other states, insisting that the proliferation of non-tariff barriers is "letting the air out of the tyres of the world economy".
"It has been free trade that has done more than any other single economic idea to raise billions out of poverty, and incredibly fast. I am here to warn you today that this beneficial magic is fading. Free trade is being choked […] I'm afraid it is the politicians who are failing to lead, the mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground", the prime minister stated.
The prime minister then delivered a passionate speech calling for a country to stand up to defend these free trade principles like one famous superhero from DC comics stood up for innocent citizens. He didn't specify though, which country should put on the superhero cloak.
"Humanity needs […] some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with his cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other", Johnson said.
The UK officially left the European Union on 31 January, after years of negotiating for a deal with Brussels that would get the approval of the British Parliament. Brexit was postponed on several occasions, with incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially planning it for 31 October.
The UK is set to go through a transition period to negotiate new trade deals with other countries, as well as the EU, now being outside the European customs union. Opponents of Brexit have repeatedly raised concerns that Johnson's Cabinet could be willing to "trade" some of Britain's interests, like granting access to the National Health Service (NHS), in order to reach favourable deals, namely with the US. The prime minister has repeatedly dismissed such rumours.
Previously, The Times also reported that Boris Johnson was so unwilling to adopt any European legislative regulations after Brexit as part of a new trade deal that he was ready to face tariffs as a result of not agreeing to such terms.