Brexit Britain will continue to be the “best in the world” in a wide variety of sectors despite the European Union’s attempts to clamp down on potential competition, former Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted, as he claimed “the French, in particular, are terrified” of the UK.
The European Union voiced concerns a looser trade relationship with the United Kingdom will turn Brexit Britain into a dangerous commercial competitor at its doorstep. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis appeared to suggest attempts to ensure the UK and the EU remain aligned at the end of the transition period are being led by France as he taunted the bloc with his forecast of success for Britain. Speaking to The Sun, Mr Davis said: “Mercantilism, protectionism if you like, on the part of the French – French mostly but the Germans and many other European countries, too but primarily the French – they operate under the mythology that Britain is a wild west of deregulation.
“You talk to small businesses in this country and they think you’re mad for saying that but it seems to be what the French believe. This is nonsense.
“Our safety levels on work are better than anywhere else in Europe, have been for our entire membership, no country competes with that. Our holidays are better, you name it.
“There’s a whole series of things which are better on Britain. It goes to the point where the French in particular, but others too, are terrified somehow we’re going to be more competitive.”
Mr Davis continued: “Actually, the truth is we are but they won’t be able to stop it because we’re an 85 percent service economy.
“We’re going to win on intellectual property, we are going to win on our skills, we’re going to win on being the best country in the world of genetics or the best country in the world on artificial intelligence.
“You name it, they won’t be able to stop us doing that.”
Brussels has long been urging the UK to agree to a level-playing field, calling on the British Government to give in to demands for regulatory alignment despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson campaigning for a clean break.
The second round of Brexit trade talks was due to begin on March 18 but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Prime Minister insisted the pandemic will not influence his commitment not to have an extension of the transition period as he previously said to be willing to have the UK trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if no agreement was to be found by December 2020.
But despite Mr Johnson’s pledge, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown predicted the coronavirus will cause Brexit trade talks to suffer a severe setback.
Speaking to the Today Programme on Thursday, Mr Brown said: “By the end of this year the big issue will be how can you restore trade? It will be not how you can build more barriers.
“It’s going to be how you’re going to get the world economy moving.”
The Labour politician added: “It doesn’t seem to me to make sense to be talking about more tariffs at a time when actually we will be trying to rebuild the links with the global supply chains and exports between different countries.
“So I think the Government has got to consider that.
“But for the moment, I think they’ve got to concentrate on getting control of this epidemic.”
The forecast came hours before EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced on Twitter he tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Writing on the social media platform, Mr Barnier said: “I would like to inform you that I have tested positive for Covid-19.
“I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.
“For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.”