Johnson’s plans for Singapore-on-Thames

Terrific FT scoop today:

The British government is planning to diverge from the EU on regulation and workers’ rights after Brexit, despite its pledge to maintain a “level playing field” in prime minister Boris Johnson’s deal, according to an official paper shared by ministers this week.

The government paper drafted by Dexeu, the Brexit department, with input from Downing Street stated that the UK was open to significant divergence, even though Brussels is insisting on comparable regulatory provisions.

The issue will come to a head when the UK begins the next phase of talks with the EU to forge a new trade deal. However, the UK in effect still faces the prospect of a no-deal Brexit next week unless EU states agree a new extension date for when the UK will leave the bloc. France was on Friday pushing for a shorter extension date than the one Mr Johnson has requested.

In a passage that could alarm Labour MPs who have backed the Brexit bill, the leaked government document also said the drafting of workers’ rights and environmental protection commitments “leaves room for interpretation”.

The paper, titled “Update to EPSG on level playing field negotiations”, appears to contradict comments made by Mr Johnson on Wednesday when he said the UK was committed to “the highest possible standards” for workers’ rights and environmental standards.

Chlorinated chickens and other delights beckon.