Sovereignty over economy: UK's tough stance on post-Brexit trade

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says Britain and the European Union should avoid "rigid red lines" as they could make it difficult to secure a post-Brexit trade agreement.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING:

'Let's not repeat some of the errors that were made over the last two and a half years."

But he may be disappointed. On Sunday (February 2), Britain laid out a tough opening stance for future talks - saying it would set its own agenda rather than meeting the EU bloc's rules to ensure frictionless trade.

After Big Ben bonged Britain out of the EU on Friday (January 31), the country now has until the end of the year to negotiate a future trade relationship.

The EU has repeatedly told the UK that the amount of access to its lucrative single market depends on how far London agrees to a "level playing field" - shorthand for adhering to rules on environmental standards, labor regulations and state aid.

But despite appeals from many businesses for the government to ensure goods can trade freely across borders, they've been briefed by ministers that they should adjust to a future when Britain does not stick to EU rules.

This was Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER, DOMINIC RAAB, SAYING:

"We are taking back control of our laws, so we're not going to have high alignment with the EU, legislative alignment with their rules, but we'll want to cooperate and we expect the EU to follow through on their commitment to a Canada-style free trade agreement, and that's what we're pursuing."

Boris Johnson is aiming for a trade deal allowing tariff- and quota- free trade in goods, similar to terms the bloc has in place with Canada.

But sources close to the British prime minister say he has taken last year's election, in which he won a large majority, as approval for his policy of putting Britain's right to set its own rules above the demands of businesses.

He will outline that approach in a speech on Monday (February 3) - but put simply, he's telling Brussels that Brexit, for him, means sovereignty trumps the economy.