Brussels, 13 December 2019 (dpa/MIA) – EU leaders congratulated British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday as they arrived for a second day of summit talks in Brussels, with talks to focus among other things on launching trade negotiations once Britain leaves the bloc.
Johnson‘s Conservative Party won a landslide majority in Thursday’s British parliamentary election, after he campaigned on the promise to “get Brexit done.”
Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union by Jan. 31, under a divorce agreement negotiated with the bloc. He called the election after parliament failed to swiftly ratify the deal.
European Council President Charles Michel said he now expects the process to conclude quickly.
“We expect as soon as possible the vote by the British parliament on the Withdrawal Agreement. It’s important to have the clarity as soon as possible,” Michel said.
“The excuse that there is no majority in London no longer exists,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel added.
Once Brexit is completed, the EU is keen to swiftly launch talks on future trade relations.
Johnson has insisted that an agreement should be in place by the end of 2020, ruling out the extension of a transitional period during which EU rules continue to apply to Britain.
“The European Union, we are ready. We have decided what are our priorities. The level playing field is a very important priority for us,” Michel noted.
The 27 remaining EU capitals are concerned that Britain could seek to undermine the bloc’s social, environmental, or labor standards.
“The future relationship will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field,” says a draft summit statement, seen by dpa.
Meanwhile, British media are citing Johnson as saying, “We will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”