Britain’s EU ambassador has warned the government a post-Brexit trade deal could take a decade to finalise and even then may fail to get ratified by member states.
It has emerged Sir Ivan Rogers told ministers in October that other EU members believed a trade deal may not be hammered out until the early to mid-2020s – a decade after the EU referendum.
Sir Ivan also said European leaders believe the Brexit deal is likely to be a free trade arrangement rather than continued single market membership.
Former European Trade Commissioner Lord Mandelson said the suggestion that a trade deal between the UK and EU could take as long as 10 years ‘rings true’.
While agreement on Britain’s ‘divorce’ deal may be reached more quickly, ‘the separate negotiation on what trade relationship replaces our membership of the EU will be harder and longer and will require the approval of all member states and their parliaments,’ the Labour peer warned.
If the UK leaves the single market and customs union and seeks a new deal which is ‘uniquely tailored’ for Britain’s needs, the complex negotiations can be expected to be ‘a harder slog’, he told the Commons Business Committee. ‘It will not be achieved simply or quickly. While we can’t be certain about how long it will take, a time-span of between five and 10 years seems to me realistic.’