Top-ex mandarin: Brexit Britain giving up a three-course meal for a bag of crisps
Britain leaving the European customs union to strike free trade deals with countries outside the EU is "giving up a three-course meal for the promise of a packet of crisps", a top ex-civil servant has said.
Sir Martin Donnelly, who left his role as permanent secretary to Liam Fox's Department of International Trade last year, said 60% of UK trade was either with the EU or the countries it had trade agreements with.
Any divergence from Brussels rules would deal a blow to British services which would not be compensated for through deals with nations like the US, he added.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You're giving up a three-course meal, which is the depth and intensity of our trade relationships across the European Union and partners now, for the promise of a packet of crisps in the future if we manage to do trade deals outside the European Union which aren't going to compensate for what we're giving up.
"You just have to look at the arithmetic - it doesn't add up I'm afraid."
You may also want to watch:
Meanwhile Boris Johnson dismissed concerns that leaving the customs union could lead to a hard Irish border by comparing travel between the Republic and Northern Ireland to driving from Camden to Islington in London.
The foreign secretary said: "We think that we can have very efficient facilitation systems to make sure that there's no need for a hard border, excessive checks at the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
- 1 Brexiteer Prue Leith quits Tory Party after government votes down motion to protect UK food standards
- 2 Public slams Brexit Party tweet which shames Tory MPs who voted against free school meals
- 3 Piers Morgan must expose the government's Brexit betrayal
- 4 Group in protest against Tory MPs who voted down free school meals targets offices with empty plates
- 5 Peers set to remove law-breaking sections of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill
- 6 Tory minister blames journalists for NHS Test and Trace failure as he defends Dido Harding
- 7 Michel Barnier postpones Brussels return as Brexit trade talks in London continue
- 8 Brexit shambles: A stress of our own making
- 9 Priti Patel set to hand private firms £28 million in government contracts to deport asylum seekers from UK
- 10 Boris Johnson and Priti Patel urged to end 'attacks' on lawyers in letter by 800 legal professionals
"There's no border between Islington or Camden and Westminster, there's no border between Camden and Westminster, but when I was mayor of London we anaesthetically and invisibly took hundreds of millions of pounds from the accounts of people travelling between those two boroughs [through the congestion charge] without any need for border checks whatever.
"It's a very relevant comparison because there's all sorts of scope for pre-booking, electronic checks, all sorts of things that you can do to obviate the need for a hard border to allow us to come out of the customs union, take back control of our trade policy and do trade deals."
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.