by Andrew Adonis
"Just because ministers keep repeating the mantra that a post-Brexit “global Britain” will trade far more with the “wider world” does not make it true. Britain’s trade is already global – and this is helped, not hindered, by being part of the EU customs union. There are a few large markets with which the EU does not yet have trade agreements, but it has them with most of Britain’s trading partners, and the number is growing. An agreement with Canada came into force last month; heads of terms have just been signed with Japan.
When ministers talk airily of a trade treaty with, for example, the US, red lights should flash immediately. It’s not just a case of whether or not we want chlorinated chicken. EU negotiations for a trade agreement with the US have been ongoing for four years, involving 15 rounds of negotiations so far – and there is still no agreement in sight. Thousands of pages of detailed texts on everything from tax to pharmaceuticals (and chickens) are going through dozens of drafts, involving hundreds of negotiators. And that is just one treaty. Britain has to negotiate more than 40 just to stand still. Within 20 months."