Stanley Johnson says Brexiteers like his son are in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ over Brexit deal

Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson. Photograph: BBC.

Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: BBC

Boris Johnson's father has said Brexiteers like his son are in 'cloud cuckoo land' over the EU's chances of backing down over a 'level playing field' to secure a deal.

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Stanley Johnson said that those in the Downing Street that believe the EU will give Britain a free trade agreement without signing up to the 'level playing field' rules - which include protecting food and welfare standards - would be mistaken.

He said that the government would have to back down on that requirement, along with its position on the European Court of Justice, if it wants a deal at the end of the transition period.

The prime minister's father, a keen environmentalist, told the Sustainable Food Trust: 'Anybody who thinks, 'Oh well, we have a free trade agreement with the EU but we don't have to bother about harmonisation' is in cloud cuckoo land.

'Why on earth should anybody give us a free trade agreement if we're not going to apply the same sort of standards to our production processes as our competitors are?

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'When I hear people say, 'Oh yes and of course we're not going to have the European Court of Justice at all'.

'Well, I cannot believe that in the long run, they will allow us a free trade agreement if we are seen to be profiting from our legally independent status to have less than optimal animal welfare standards and environmental standards.'

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Johnson's father, who previously backed Remain but switched to supporting Leave a year after the result, said he had tried to lobby the prime minister on the matter but explained: 'There is a whole machinery of government which is very difficult to bypass.'

A level playing field has been a key demand from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, but one that has been continually rejected by Number 10.

Barnier warned last month: 'By the refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.

'The UK still refuses to commit to maintaining high standards in a meaningful way.

Patrick Holden, chief executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, supported the former MEP's remarks.

He said: 'Stanley Johnson is absolutely right that if we do not mirror existing EU standards on the environment, food safety and animal welfare, they will never do a post-Brexit, a free-trade deal with us.'

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