Johnson repeats no-deal threat after Merkel warns of economic ‘consequences’

Boris Johnson has repeated his threat of walking away from trade talks with Brussels after German chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain would have to "live with the consequences" of abandoning close ties.

During a conversation on Saturday with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson reiterated that the UK was prepared to leave on "Australia terms" if no agreement was forthcoming.

Australia has no bespoke trade deal with the European Union, leading Brexit critics to describe the proposals as akin to leaving on no-deal terms, albeit with a number of mini-deals put in place to allow vital sectors, such as air travel, to continue.

A Number 10 spokeswoman, issuing a readout of a phone discussion with Mr Morawiecki, said: "On the UK's future relationship with the EU, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement on both sides to an intensified process of negotiations in July.

"He said the UK would negotiate constructively but equally would be ready to leave the transition period on Australia terms if agreement could not be reached."

The remarks come after German leader Ms Merkel warned that Britons would have to "live with the consequences" of Mr Johnson rejecting predecessor Theresa May's plan to continue close economic links with Brussels after Brexit.

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Pictures of the week: June 21 - June 27
Liverpool fan Dillon Parry waves a flag outside Anfield in Liverpool. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man clears rubbish left by beachgoers in Brighton as thunderstorms and torrential rain are forecast to sweep across the UK, bringing an end to a week of blazing sunshine and scorching temperatures.
A man jumps into a disused dock in East London as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Sunbathers at Richmond Bridge, London, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A man wearing a face mask seen with his children at the beach on the hottest day of the year. People head to the beach at the popular seaside resort of Skegness as England records it's hottest day of the year with temperatures at 30 degrees Celsius. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Protesters singing songs during the demonstration. Protesters from the �Africans in the Diaspora� gather outside Christie's to demand the return of African Artifacts. Europe's museums are fighting to keep Africa's artifacts as pressure mounts from campaigners. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People play in the River Cam in Grantchester near Cambridge as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
People in Clapham Common, south London as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Crowds gather on the beach in Bournemouth as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
RICKMANSWORTH, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Amateur Annabell Fuller hits her second shot on the 1st hole during The Rose Ladies Series at Moor Park Golf Club on June 25, 2020 in Rickmansworth, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Andy Meldrum, owner of the Glencoe Mountain Resort, skis on some of the remaining snow patches on the slopes of Meall a'Bhuiridh in Glencoe as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Cows use the River Thames to cool off in Bourne End, Bucks, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Kyle Edmund (R) and James Ward both leave the ball for each other during their doubles match against Joe Salisbury and Jonny O'Mara on day 3 of Schroders Battle of the Brits at the National Tennis Centre on June 25, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Battle Of The Brits)
A pair of women wearing face masks turn onto Old Quebec Street from Oxford Street in London, England, on June 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that the next stage of lockdown easing in England would proceed on schedule, with pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, libraries, theme parks and zoos allowed to reopen from July 4. The two-metre social distancing rule is also to be halved from the same date, with people encouraged to take additional mitigation actions, such as wearing face coverings, when close together. The change, to what is being dubbed 'one-metre plus', is seen as key to the survival of the hospitality sector. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A homeless man sleeps on Cranbourn Street in London, England, on June 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that the next stage of lockdown easing in England would proceed on schedule, with pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, libraries, theme parks and zoos allowed to reopen from July 4. The two-metre social distancing rule is also to be halved from the same date, with people encouraged to take additional mitigation actions, such as wearing face coverings, when close together. The change, to what is being dubbed 'one-metre plus', is seen as key to the survival of the hospitality sector. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The RAF Voyager used by the Prime Minister and the royal family taxies along the runway at Cambridge airport where it has been repainted in the colours of the Union flag at a cost of almost £1 million. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
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View of a field of poppies in the summer sunshine. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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Police officers congregate outside a cordoned off block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident lived in Reading, west of London, on June 23, 2020. - British counter-terrorism police have been given until June 27 to question a suspect widely identified as Libyan Khairi Saadallah in an attack which saw three people stabbed to death in a park, officers said. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
People visit the beach in Boscombe, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave as temperatures are set to climb into the mid-30s this week. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
BEVERLEY, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Jockey Danny Tudhope riding Le Chiffre approach the finish line to win the William Hill Lengthen #yourodds Handicap (Div I) at Beverley Racecourse on June 23, 2020 in Beverley, England. (Photo by Hannah Ali/Pool via Getty Images)
Twilight at dawn at New Brighton lighthouse during low tide on the River Mersey ahead of the chance that Britain could bask in the hottest day of the year so far this week. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Statue Robert Clive is boarded up following vandalism from previous demonstration in the City. Clive, the 1st Baron Clive better know as Clive of India, who established British rule in India stands outside the Foreign Office. Clive was first Governor of Bengal Presidency under the East India Company. Authorities boarded monuments and statues in London most due to their past linkage to slavery in anticipation of possible vandalism with far-right organisations and Black Lives Matter demonstration scheduled for this weekend. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Black lives matter protester holds a placard during the demonstration. Protests continue in London and elsewhere in the UK for the fourth consecutive week amid growing calls for reform in police forces. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People camp under a bivouac during showers next to a closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day in the UK.
READING , June 21, 2020 -- A police officer stands behind a police cordon at an entrance to Forbury Gardens where stabbings took place in Reading, Britain, on June 21, 2020. Britain's counter-terrorism police said Sunday that the stabbing incident taking place in southern England's town of Reading on Saturday night "has now been declared a terrorist incident."(Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Liverpool fan Emily Farley poses outside her home which is decorated in club flags, banners and paraphernalia before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on June 21, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
BLM demonstrators march through Oxford Street during the demonstration. Black Lives Matter protests continue in The UK since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officer in Minneapolis. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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Ms Merkel spoke with six European newspapers ahead of Germany assuming the rotating presidency of the EU council on July 1, and a day after Mr Johnson's senior Brexit adviser signalled the next phase of talks with the bloc would be tough.

Negotiations are still deadlocked after months of virtual talks – held by teleconferencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic – with fishing rights and EU calls for a so-called "level playing field" proving to be major stumbling blocks.

In comments carried by The Guardian, Mrs Merkel said: "With Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British Government wants to define for itself what relationship it will have with us after the country leaves.

"It will then have to live with the consequences, of course, that is to say with a less closely interconnected economy.

"If Britain does not want to have rules on the environment and the labour market or social standards that compare with those of the EU, our relations will be less close."

Mrs Merkel, 65, who has led Germany since 2005 and will retire from politics when her fourth term as chancellor ends next year, also said a no-deal Brexit would not be a personal defeat for her.

She said Europe could only respond appropriately to "reality" as Britain sets out what it wants at the negotiation table.

Mrs Merkel's comments come as the PM's Brexit adviser, known as "the sherpa" on EU negotiations, said the "intensified process" in discussions next week needed to be realistic.

David Frost said the UK would not allow Brussels the right to hit back at changes in British law with tariffs.

Mr Johnson has continually insisted that the UK would reject an EU offer to extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of the year.

In bullish language, Mr Frost insisted UK sovereignty over laws, courts, and fishing waters was "not up for discussion".

He also said that what he called some of the EU's more "unrealistic positions" would have to change in order to achieve progress.

Mr Frost said he was looking forward to the resumption of face-to-face talks on June 29 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: "These meetings will be smaller and focused on seeing whether we can begin to make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement."

The UK has a deadline of July 1 if it wants to extend the transition period beyond the end of the year.

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