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Boris-Farage Brexit plan “is not deliverable” says trade expert

The type of Brexit deal advocated by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage is a fantasy, according to former trade negotiator David Henig.

Both Johnson and Farage advocate negotiating a ‘free trade agreement’ (FTA) with the EU, believing it will enable us to “enjoy the benefits of preferential free trade with the EU, particularly in goods, but equally be free also to make our own trade deals, including with the US.”

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But Henig, who has worked closely on trade deals with both the UK and EU in recent years, says this is imaginary politics.

Disregarding the monumental issue of the Irish border, that wouldn’t be solved by an FTA, Henig says that an FTA is just another example “of us attempting to cherry pick, to get most of the trade benefits of EU membership without the bits we don’t like.”

This, he says, won’t fly with the EU. He points out several things that the EU would insist upon from an FTA, that British politicians would find difficult to stomach:

  • Trade protection for EU regional products. He says: “this is simply non-negotiable.”
  • Common standards between the EU and UK – on food regulations, for example. The USA would also insist on common standards, if we wanted to do an FTA with them. Therefore, in Henig’s words, “The UK is going to have to make a choice between prioritising EU and US trade deals.”
  • Alignment of regulations. The EU would insist on Britain signing up to Single Market regulations – something that would be loathed by Brexiteers.
  • A commitment not to undercut labour or environmental laws. While this would be welcomed by the Labour Party, it’s unlikely that Farage or Boris would be so enthusiastic.

Henig summarises by saying: “We are back to the problem, since 2016, of the UK wanting a deal keeping what we have and losing what we don’t, and the EU not being able to accept that, for the reasons above, and for its own survival.”

What’s more, for all the bravado of Brexiteers, who say that the EU will fold to our demands if only we negotiate with more courage and zest, Henig points out an undeniable fact: the EU is the larger market with more to offer. It will always have the upper hand in trade negotiations with smaller countries (which is why our membership of the EU gives us huge economic benefits).

Boris and Farage think that an FTA is the magic solution to the Brexit dilemma. They’re categorically, blatantly wrong.

7 responses to “Boris-Farage Brexit plan “is not deliverable” says trade expert

  1. Any bilateral trade deal, e.g. with USA, which involved standards below the EU’s such as on food, would have to mean a hard border on Ireland – no unguarded back door into the single market. That would breach the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and thereby also be illegal in UK law under section 10 of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. So even more of a fantasy.

  2. The article is rubbish. There are plenty of countries that have FTAs with the EU without any of the restrictions the author claims are required. It is just ridiculous to say that you can’t have an FTA with the EU and another one with another country such as the USA. Mexico and Canada both have Free Trade Agreements with the EU and are part of the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) for example. This article is just Remain fear-mongering propaganda.

    1. The deal we currently have with EU is way better than countries outside the EU get. We can gets lots of compromise deals given enough years of trying, but never as good as what we have already sadly.

      “EU is the larger market with more to offer. It will always have the upper hand in trade negotiations with smaller countries (which is why our membership of the EU gives us huge economic benefits).

      Boris and Farage think that an FTA is the magic solution to the Brexit dilemma. They’re categorically, blatantly wrong.

    2. Incorrect. It’s not an FTA in that any product or service can be freely traded. It is an agreement to have no tariffs and to allow investments, subsidiaries and services to have access to each market. There’s possibility for either side to put up restrictions whenever they want to protect public health or prosperity. Since Canada don’t follow EU regulation there are checks and controls on imports of products to ensure they’re complying with regulations. For example agricultural products are difficult since regulation on GMO and antibiotics differ.

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