Leave campaigners are calling on the Government to agree to a similar deal to the CETA
Leave campaigners are calling on the Government to agree a similar deal to the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) agreed between Canada and the EU.
A letter to the Prime Minister – backed by senior figures from politics, business, economics, academia and the military – warns “the clock is ticking and we are approaching the last moment at which business can properly prepare for Brexit”.
The open letter also calls on the Government to prepare for global trade under WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules from March 2019, in case a Canada-style deal cannot be agreed by October.
Moving to Canada-style trade deal would cover 98 per cent of goods and 92 per cent of agriculture.
Moving to a Canada-style trade deal would cover 98% of goods and 92% of agriculture
We are approaching a crucial moment which will determine the course of Brexit negotiations and Britain’s future
Crucially, it would remove the need for any “transition period”, meaning the UK could enjoy the benefits of Brexit from the end of March 2019.
The letter, signed by former Chancellor Lord Lawson, says that if the EU rejects a Canada-style deal, the UK could comfortably move to global trade under WTO rules with the EU.
John Longworth, co-chair of Leave Means Leave, explained: “We are approaching a crucial moment which will determine the course of Brexit negotiations and Britain’s future.
“After March, it will be too late for business to adapt to the outcome of negotiations.
Brexit Secretary David Davis has been accused of ‘losing control’ of negotiations
“The longer it goes on, the more the EU knows it has us over a barrel.
“The UK must make preparations now for global free trade under WTO rules in the increasingly likely event a free trade deal is not secured.
“This will ensure the UK can enjoy the opportunities of our newly-won economic freedoms as soon as we leave the EU.
“Unfortunately, because success has been defined as securing a free trade arrangement with the EU regardless of the cost to the UK, we are in a difficult position. When I met with Michel Barnier recently, it was made clear that a special deal for the UK is impossible without unacceptable restrictions.
Philip Hammond gave a speech in Davos last week calling for a ‘soft’ and ‘very modest’ Brexit
“By contrast the EU seems keen to agree a Canada-style deal, preserving all our advantages of global free trade under WTO, covering 98 per cent of goods and 92 per cent of agriculture. It also has the advantage that it could be agreed quickly, eliminating the need for a blanket transition period and bringing forward the advantages of global free trade.”
Other signatories include ex-Brexit minister David Jones, Owen Paterson MP, Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin and Colonel Richard Kemp.
The letter comes amid cabinet civil war over Brexit after Chancellor Philip Hammond last week gave a speech in Davos calling for a “soft” and “very modest” Brexit.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of a group of more than 100 Eurosceptic Tory MPs, warned Britain is heading for “Brino” – Brexit in name only.
And Brexit Secretary David Davis has been accused of “losing control” of negotiations amid suggestions that Remainer civil servant Olly Robbins, who was moved from the Department for Exiting the EU last September to become Brexit adviser to Number 10, is actually running the show.
Yesterday it was reported that British officials were in discussions with Brussels about extending the transition period even further, although the Government has maintained it will last for “around two years.”
Mrs May is reported to have postponed a third landmark speech on Brexit because of the in-fighting.
In an interview with the Sunday Express last week, Mr Rees-Mogg called on the Government to honour its policy of taking Britain out of the single market and customs union on March 29 next year without any continued alignment with the EU.
Yesterday Business Secretary Greg Clark attempted to quell the storm by telling Radio 4’s Today programme that “Britain is absolutely, unambiguously” leaving the EU.
1 of 17
He added that remaining subject to European Court of Justice rulings and paying into the EU budget would be “a failure of negotiations” and a “sign of weakness”.
Meanwhile, Lord Adonis is plotting to derail key Brexit legislation before peers start discussing it next week.
The former Labour transport secretary wants the House of Lords to extend the initial two-day debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill to four days.
If he fails, he is threatening to call a vote – a rare move that could further derail the passage of the bill.
His antics are likely to frustrate his own frontbench as well as Brexit-backing MPs, who have already warned unelected peers not to thwart the will of the people.