I noted with interest Tory trade secretary, Liam Fox, warning that a no-deal Brexit was now more likely than the UK getting an agreement with the EU.
Quite bizarrely, this appears to be the same Liam Fox who little more than a year ago said that a post-Brexit free trade with the EU should be the ‘easiest in human history’ to achieve.
Of course, according to Fox, this no-deal Brexit is due to the ‘intransigence’ of Brussels. Quite a common strategy to use. If you cannot get what you want, blame the other side.
However, the ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ being promoted by the UK government is a non-starter. The EU simply cannot allow a country that isn’t a member of the customs union to collect duties. Likewise, the UK simply cannot cherry-pick which regulatory aspects of the EU it wants to remain aligned with and which it doesn’t.
The EU has made clear at the outset what its ‘red lines’ are and it cannot be seen to be doing anything that threatens the integrity of the single market and customs union. Fox is guilty of looking to deflect blame, turning his fire on Brussels when the European Commission made its position clear from the very beginning.
Liam Fox claims the prospect of no deal is causing more anxiety among the EU27 nations than in this country. Judging from continental news bulletins, newspaper headlines, etc, and talking to my friends there, this is far from being the case.
You do not need to be a mathematical genius to understand why Fox’s claim is just a fabrication:
EU27 population = 450m. EU GDP = $19tr
UK population = 65m.
GDP = $3tr
A ratio of 7 to one for population, 6 to 1 for GDP.
Yes, there will be comparable pain on both sides.
But this pain will be hugely diluted among the EU27’s much larger population and GDP – even though some countries will suffer more than others, a problem fortunately mitigated by EU solidarity, whilst we will be completely on our own.
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