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This morning MEPs are debating the European commission’s draft negotiating mandate for the UK-EU trade talks and Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, used her speech to gently mock Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the UK would be happy with an Australian-style trade arrangement with the EU. This is now the UK government’s preferred way of describing what the rest of us call “no deal” – the UK exiting the transition period at the end of 2020 without a trade deal with the EU to smooth trading arrangements. As my colleague Patrick Wintour reported last week, British officials have been ordered not to talk about “no deal” anymore, and Johnson confirmed the new linguistic approach (which also reflects a policy shift – a growing willingness to accept no deal) in his Brexit speech in Greenwich last week, where he said:


The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s.

This morning Von der Leyen praised Johnson for celebrating the importance of free trade in his speech. (The EU’s single market is all about facilitating free trade.) But she also said this about the UK’s new found enthusiasm for an Australian-style trade deal.


Honestly, I was a little bit surprised to hear the prime minister of the United Kingdom speak about the Australian model. Australia, without any doubt, is a strong and like-minded partner. But the European Union does not have a trade agreement with Australia. We are currently trading on WTO terms. And if this is the British choice, well, we are fine with that, without any question. But in fact we just are in the moment where we are agreeing with Australia that that we must end this situation and we work on a trade deal with them.

In other words, the Australian-style arrangement is so unsatisfactory that even the Australians don’t want it; they are trying for a free trade deal with the EU instead.

I will post more from the debate soon. As my colleague Jennifer Rankin reported last week, MEPs are debating a resolution saying that any future British government should be required to upgrade key employment, environment and competition laws to maintain free trade with the European Union. You can read the text of the resolution here.

Later, of course, we have a major statement from Johnson in the Commons on HS2. Here is the agenda for the day.

8am: The European parliament debates the European commission’s draft negotiating guidelines for the UK-EU trade talks.

10am: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, addresses a Green Alliance conference on the COP 26 climate change summit. At 3.15pm Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, will also address the conference.

10.45am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

After 12.45pm: Johnson is due to make a statement to MPs about the government’s plans for HS2 and for an investment in buses and cycle networks.

3.35pm: Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to a Lords committee.

And at some point today the Home Office will publish the text of its emergency anti-terror legislation, the terrorist offenders (restriction of early release) bill.

As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary when I wrap up.

You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

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