Boris Johnson said Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was wrong to suggest the U.K. would be unable to trade on existing terms with the EU if it leaves the bloc with no deal.
The front-runner in the Conservative leadership race insisted that using World Trade Organization rules to keep the same tariffs after a no-deal Brexit is “certainly an option” and he bolstered his commitment to leave the EU on October 31, “do or die.”
Last week, the Bank of England boss said it would be impossible to employ the so-called GATT 24 clause if the U.K. quits the EU without an agreement in place.
“GATT 24 applies if you have an agreement, not if youve decided to not have an agreement or have been unable to come to an agreement,” he told the BBC.
Johnson accepted in a radio phone-in Tuesday that Carney was right to say “there has to be agreement on both sides” but added he was “wrong to say its not an option.”
He insisted on LBC radio: “It is certainly an option. I dont know whether he has said its not an option but people are wrong if they say its not an option. I dont think Mark Carney has said that.”
In his comments, Carney argued it could only be used between parties who already had a trade deal in place or are close to striking one.
“We should be clear that if we move to no deal, no deal means no deal, it means there is a substantial change in the trading relationship with the European Union,” Carney said. “Not having an agreement with the EU means there are tariffs … because the Europeans have to apply the same rules to us as they apply to everyone else.”
Johnson argued that the GATT rules are “perfectly clear that two countries that are in the process of beginning a free-trade agreement … may protract their existing arrangements until such time as they have completed the new free-trade agreement.”
He said the clause is a “very hopeful prospect” for Britain and “the way forward.”
In an interview with the BBC Monday, Johnson insisted his government would “never” impose checks on the border in Northern Ireland and would not “want” to impose tariffs on goods entering the U.K.
Elsewhere on LBC this morning, Johnson said he would introduce legislation to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. on “day one” of his premiership.