Boris Johnson says the U.K. will not try to undercut the EU in trade negotiations | Pool photo by Frank Augstein via Getty Images
Boris Johnson: UK will not undercut EU competition rules
However, British PM refuses to sign up to Brussels’ level playing field rules.
Updated 2/3/20, 2:42 PM CET
LONDON — Boris Johnson insisted the U.K. will not engage in a “race to the bottom” on competition standards after Brexit.
In a speech at the grand painted hall of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the U.K. prime minister said he wants to “reassure” Brussels over fears Britain will undercut the EU on working rights, environmental standards and state aid.
“We will not engage in some cut-throat race to the bottom,” he told an audience of ambassadors and business leaders about the trade deal he hopes to strike with the bloc and other nations around the world. “We are not leaving the EU to undermine European standards, we will not engage in any kind of dumping, whether commercial, or social, or environmental.”
But Johnson refused outright to sign up to so-called level playing field rules that govern competition standards across the bloc. “There is no need for a free-trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept U.K. rules.”
However, a spokesman for the prime minster later suggested an agreement on competition rules is possible — but would not require the two sides writing any such agreements into law.