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UK PM Ready to Start Talks on Free Trade Agreement With EU Immediately After Brexit

© AFP 2023 / KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTHBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen inside 10 Downing Street
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen inside 10 Downing Street - Sputnik International
LONDON (Sputnik) - Boris Johnson told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday that he was looking forward to concluding a free trade agreement with the EU and that he was ready to start the negotiations as soon as the United Kingdom withdraws from the bloc on 31 January, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
"The Prime Minister today held a positive meeting in Downing Street with Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission ... They discussed the progress of ratification in the UK and in the European Parliament. He said the UK wanted a positive new UK and EU partnership, based on friendly cooperation, our shared history, interests and values. The PM reiterated that we wanted a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, and cooperation in other areas", the statement read.

Johnson added that at the moment his main priority was the implementation of the withdrawal agreement by the last day of January. He also noted that the post-Brexit transition period would not be extended beyond 31 December 2020.

"Any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ jurisdiction. He said the UK would also maintain control of UK fishing waters and our immigration system. The PM made clear that we would continue to ensure high standards in the UK in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment. The PM said the UK was ready to start negotiations on the future partnership and Canada-style FTA as soon as possible after 31 January", the Prime Minister's office said.

Johnson and von der Leyen also discussed the situation in Iraq, noting the importance of coalition forces continuing the fight against the Daesh* terrorist group.

Britons voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum. The political chaos that followed sparked major divisions in the country, and fears that Scotland may seek to leave the UK in order to remain in the EU, as well as concerns over the fate of the common border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Brexit also led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and his successor, Theresa May. Johnson, May's successor, has made Brexit his key priority, saying in September that he'd "rather be dead in a ditch" than agree to further delays in getting a deal done.

* Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

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