Britain will have no alignment with EU rules post-Brexit, the U.K. chancellor said, urging companies to “adjust” to the new reality.
“There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule-taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,” Sajid Javid told the Financial Times in an interview published late Friday.
The chancellor’s words may make uncomfortable reading for U.K. business in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which cautioned in October that diverging from EU regulations could pose “serious risk to manufacturing competitiveness.”
Javid’s pledge also risks a clash with the EU, which insists that any future trade deal with the U.K. must include a strong commitment to a level playing field, meaning that Britain must remain aligned to EU environmental, social and competition standards.
However, there is potential to diverge on other standards such as food safety or other product regulations — such as for cars — with the risk that those products could no longer be exported into the EU, or that supply chains are interrupted.
But the chancellor sought to dismiss such risks: “Japan sells cars to the EU but they don’t follow EU rules,” he said, adding: “We’re also talking about companies that have known since 2016 that we are leaving the EU. Admittedly, they didn’t know the exact terms.”
Javid did not say which EU rules he wanted to ditch, the Financial Times reported, but promised that “once we’ve got this agreement in place with our European friends, we will continue to be one of the most successful economies on Earth.”
Javid said he will attend next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, sidestepping a previous ban by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his ministers attending the annual get-together for the global elite.
“I hope that in five years from now, we’ve made really good progress towards dealing with the big economic challenges,” Javid said. “And there’s two sort of biggies — growth and productivity”.