Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the European Union he'll walk away from the negotiating table in June if it's not clear he's going to get a Canada-style free trade agreement for the U.K.
The pound fell.
The U.K.'s negotiating mandate for the next stage of Brexit, published Thursday, was in many areas close to what the EU published Tuesday. The main differences were on how closely the U.K. has to stick to EU regulations — the so-called level playing field, how the deal will be structured and governed and fishing rights in U.K. waters.
"It is a vision of a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals," the government said. "With both parties respecting one another's legal autonomy. The government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the U.K. does not have control over its own laws and political life."
The U.K. is setting a tough timetable for the negotiations, saying it wants the broad outline of an agreement by June, so the deal can be finalized by September. Britain will assess in June whether the talks are on course to succeed, and then decide whether to continue or to "focus solely" on preparing to leave the EU's regulatory orbit without a deal on Dec 31.
The pound fell after the document was released, erasing gains against the dollar and extending losses against the euro.
"We want the best possible trading relationship with the EU, but in the pursuit of the deal, we will not trade away our sovereignty," Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told the House of Commons on Thursday.