The UK and the European Union dug in their heels ahead of contentious talks to determine post-Brexit relations as both sides set out contrasting visions for the future.
In a long-planned speech, signaling the start of a new era after the UK finally left the bloc on Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it was now the EU's turn to fall in line.
"I see no need to bind ourselves to an agreement with the EU," Johnson said. "We will restore full sovereign control over our borders and immigration, competition and subsidy rules, procurement and data protection."
He added: "There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar.
"The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas – better, in many respects, than those of the EU – without the compulsion of a treaty and it is vital to stress this now."
London and Brussels have 11 months to sort out their differences if Johnson sticks to his pledge not to extend the transition period beyond 31 December, 2020.
Britain will have to abide by EU membership rules until then, while the contours of fresh new ties are drawn up. In the event of no deal, border checks and trade tariffs will kick in – a scenario businesses trading across the Channel would like to avoid.
The UK has cited the EU-Canada trade agreement as a model that could be emulated, something that Brussels finds acceptable on the issue of tariffs and quotas, but insufficient on provisions of fair trade.
Formal talks are expected to start next month, once the green light has been received from the 27-nation bloc.
Despite the British government's repeated assertions that a deal could be agreed quite swiftly, EU officials have not been too optimistic about the timetable. The EU-Canada deal took seven years to finalize.
With Johnson adopting a combative mode, Brussels was not far behind in drawing its battle lines.