Critics of PM’s Brexit deal publish proposals for free trade


Critics of Theresa May’s Brexit deal have published proposals for a future free trade agreement between the EU and UK which they claim will deliver the “most advanced and liberalising” conditions ever seen.

The document – part of a sequence of reports released under the slogan A Better Deal – proposes zero tariffs and no restrictions in quantity for trade in goods and agricultural and food products and “maximum liberalisation” for services.

It proposes “state of the art” highly facilitated customs clearance arrangements between the EU and UK.

On the movement of labour, it calls for easier access to temporary business visas, while on the movement of capital it proposes free flows between the EU and UK.

The two sides would be barred from erecting technical barriers to trade or using standards as a means of making trade more difficult.

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And the two sides would have to commit not to use subsidies or state aid to distort markets.

Written by international trade policy experts Shanker Singham and Robert MacLean, the document states that its proposals would preserve the UK’s ability to strike trade deals around the world and make changes to its own domestic relations.

And it says that it would build on existing EU trade agreements with other countries, such as Canada and Japan.

Speaking at its launch in Westminster, former Brexit secretary David Davis said the group wanted to create a draft treaty that allows the UK to “pursue other free trade agreements”.

He suggested the UK’s exit should not be delayed by more than a few weeks in order to secure an amended deal – after several Cabinet ministers said Britain may not leave on March 29.

Mr Davis said the risk of no deal was “driving the member states to put pressure on the Commission to come back to the table with a serious change of offer”.

“If they come back and we get to near the 29th and we haven’t quite concluded it, I wouldn’t worry about a week or two or three.

“But bear something else in mind: the European Union itself cannot really countenance more than a couple of months’ extension because of the effect of the European elections.”

He warned: “If they extend it much more than that we would have to have an election for MEPs – and if there’s one thing the European Union doesn’t want back it’s Nigel Farage.”

Former international trade minister Greg Hands said the proposals would not work if Britain remained in a customs union.

“I’m concerned at how membership of an EU customs union has crept back into the debate in the last week or two,” he said.

“Being in the common customs union with the UK would effectively offer up access to UK markets as well as access to EU markets with no guarantee that anything reciprocal would happen for the UK.”