Australian-style Brexit? Be careful what you wish for, warns last Australian PM

Boris Johnson has been told to "be careful what you wish for" as he was given a stark warning of the torments of trading with the EU on so-called Australian terms by the nation's previous prime minister.

Malcolm Turnbull said that Australia faces "very large barriers" to trading with the bloc and that ending the Brexit transition period on similar terms will be "pretty disappointing".

Mr Turnbull's warning on Thursday came after the Prime Minister said there is a "strong possibility" that the UK will fail to broker a trade deal with Brussels.

Mr Johnson used his euphemism of exiting with an "Australian relationship", with the nation not having a free trade deal with the EU and instead trading on terms set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Mr Turnbull, who was the Liberal Party prime minister until 2018, told BBC Question Time: "It'll be pretty disappointing, I think you'll find out.

"We obviously are dealing with WTO terms. And there are really some very large barriers to Australian trade with Europe which we're seeking to address as we negotiate a free trade agreement with Europe

"But Australians would not regard our trade relationship with Europe as being a satisfactory one.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) in the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - Britain's Prime Minister arrives in Brussels on December 9, 2020, with hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal hanging on crisis talks with EU chief. Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism that would allow the EU to respond swiftly if UK and EU business rules diverge over time and put European firms at a disadvantage. (Photo by Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves in a car after a post-Brexit talks' working dinner at the EU headquarters on December 9, 2020 in Brussels. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Ursula von der Leyen for a working dinner that could save -- or kill off -- hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen for a dinner during which they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Three men in disguise wait in front the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels to protest as Britain's Prime Minister arrives prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinneron December 9, 2020. - EU chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson to her headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, for talks on saving post-Brexit trade negotiations. At Johnson's suggestion, he and von der Leyen removed their anti-Covid facemasks briefly and posed for photographers at the Berlaymont building before heading in for a working dinner. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) leaves the official residence of the British ambassador to the United Kingdom in Brussels on December 9, 2020, prior to a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - Britain's Prime Minister arrives in Brussels on December 9, 2020, with hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal hanging on crisis talks with EU chief. Talks are blocked over the issue of fair competition, with Britain refusing to accept a mechanism that would allow the EU to respond swiftly if UK and EU business rules diverge over time and put European firms at a disadvantage. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) meet on trade deals in Brussels, Belgium on December 09, 2020. (Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
This picture taken on December 9, 2020, shows the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels as Britain's Prime Minister and European Commission President meet for a post-Brexit talks' working dinner. - EU chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson to her headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, for talks on saving post-Brexit trade negotiations. At Johnson's suggestion, he and von der Leyen removed their anti-Covid facemasks briefly and posed for photographers at the Berlaymont building before heading in for a working dinner. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 09: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen meet for a dinner during they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The British prime minister's visit marked his most high-profile involvement in the talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, which has remained elusive despite months of EU and UK negotiating teams shuttling between London and Brussels. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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"There are very big barriers to Australian exports of agricultural products in particular, there's a lot of friction in the system in terms of services, there's a lot to aim for.

"So, you know, be careful what you wish for. Australia's relationship with the EU is not one from a trade point of view that I think Britain would want, frankly," the former Rhodes Scholar added.

Earlier, Mr Johnson had told his Cabinet to "get on and make those preparations" for a departure without a trade deal, though he said negotiators would "go the extra mile" to get a treaty in time for the end of the transition period on December 31.

"I do think we need to be very, very clear, there is now a strong possibility – a strong possibility – that we will have a solution that is much more like an Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship with the EU," he said in an interview.

Mr Johnson insists that the UK can "prosper mightily" under a no-deal but the Office for Budget Responsibility financial watchdog has suggested that a no-deal outcome could wipe 2% off gross domestic product – a measure of the size of the economy – in 2021.

Experts have indicated that could be around £45 billion.

WTO rules will mean UK firms will face tariffs on many goods traded with the EU and the addition of some quota restrictions and customs checks.

Australia trades 11% of its goods with the bloc. That figure stands at more than 50% for the UK.

While it does not have a comprehensive free trade agreement with Brussels, Australia does have a series of mini agreements on trade and other areas.

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