Trade & Brexit: Where next?

The New BrexitSec

Among the changes in Prime Minister May’s post-referendum reshuffle David Davis has now been appointed new ‘Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’ or BrexitSec as I’m growing used to calling him. He caused a bit of a stir last Monday when he appeared not to know that the Republic of Ireland was no longer part of the UK. While a quick glance at a map may have told him otherwise I was slightly more surprised at some of his other comments which appeared to reveal his lack of knowledge over international trade, which will no doubt be a key part of any post-Brexit UK-EU relations. Discussing prospects for trade outside the EU he offered:

“Post Brexit a UK-German deal would include free access for their cars and industrial goods, in exchange for a deal on everything else…Similar deals would be reached with other key EU nations. France would want to protect £3 billion of food and wine exports. Italy, its £1 billion fashion exports. Poland its £3 billion manufacturing exports.”

He seems to have missed the part where being part of the EU means that you don’t have individual trading deals with single EU nations; rather they trade as a single bloc. Considering he was a former Europe Minister, who a government whip when parliament voted on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 this was rather bewildering.

Last week he also said in an interview with Sky News that he expects the UK to negotiate a trading area “probably 10 times the size” of the European Union. However 10 times the size of the EU would of course be much more than the economy of the entire planet combined. Aside from minor discrepancies under pressure it is worth looking at what leading Brexit campaigners such as him (those who haven’t fled the scene or retreated to a safe distance) have in mind when it comes to Britain’s post-EU trading position. In a recent article on ConservativeHome on the subject he suggested:

“within two years, before the negotiation with the EU is likely to be complete, and therefore before anything material has changed, we can negotiate a free trade area massively larger than the EU”

He is of course aware it won’t be able to conclude any trade deals at all as it will still be bound by EU rules. The prospect of this happening within two years remains rather remote as it might require deals bigger than any the UK currently has and he hasn’t laid-out under what formula these would be conducted under, nor does it have all that many trade negotiators ready to conduct such deals. What makes trade matters with Europe more complicated is that the European Commission have already signaled their unwillingness to conclude any EU-UK trade deal before the Brexit negotiations are complete.

Mr Davis calls the ‘WTO model’ of trade negotiations “The worst case scenario” which would be in agreement with many trade experts, who see the WTO as being far from the vanguard of new trading partnerships, with large deals involving regional trade blocs becoming far more likely to lead to global trends. The EU currently has 36 regional trade agreements notified with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), whereas the UK has none, and it’s far from certain that the UK would be able to benefit from the existing arrangements after it left the EU. All free trade agreements negotiated by the European Commission specify that the agreements apply to members of the European Union and ‘docking on’ to these by a country no longer part of single market would require approval from the EU. This could mean the UK could have to negotiate 36 times to get back to where it once was. In this instance be better for London to go in search of fresh deals.

More shallow deals are on offer as part of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) which countries such as Switzerland are part of and which the UK left in 1973. However a similar situation is on offer here as with the 27 countries who currently have free trade agreements with EFTA as they stipulate they would require additional treaties for others to join. Even though EFTA was able to conclude a trade deal with Canada in two years, much quicker than the EU did, it is much less useful to the UK than the EU – Canada deal, known the as Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). The EFTA deals mostly cover goods and not services, so far from what would be ideal for the British economy.

David Davis’ has previously said that his preferred model is the CETA, which has just been agreed and is due to enter into force in the next few years (pending ratification). For a deal with Canada to provide a model is a surprising choice as the current deal reflect’s Canada’s specific trade portfolio based on commodities as well as agricultural and manufacturing products. While CETA does include services, investment and other trade aspects useful to the UK economy, it has very limited regulatory cooperation or harmonisation of standards, a crucial feature of the EU internal market.  On his recent trip to Canada Britain’s International Trade Minister Liam Fox said that trade talks with Canada had already begun, only to have his Canadian counterpart say publicly that the talks were currently only about the EU as a whole. Incidentally CETA has so far taken seven years to negotiate, so if it is the new BexitSec’s preferred option he may have to wait longer than the two years he had hoped-for.
The real prize for many is the EU-US free trade deal, known as TTIP. Barack Obama famously told the UK that it would be “at the back of the queue” if it were looking for a free trade deal with the US if it left the EU. What many forgot is that the UK (as part of the EU) is currently very close to the front of the queue as negotiations between the EU and US on TTIP are now well advanced and have been ongoing for over three years. However despite John Kerry’s statements in Brussels last week most insiders say that the deal is now effectively dead. It seems likely the deal will fail, largely as a result of a lack of results on the European side, but now thanks to Brexit and an up-coming US election, the deal (born at the G8 summit in Lough Erne in 2013) may never see the light of day.

The “queue” for free trade deals with the US is currently rather full, Washington is as of today in negotiations with 13 individual countries and five separate blocs of counties, the most important of which being the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 separate states. If UK were to politely get its way to the front of that queue there are prospects for such a deal, given that a simple bilateral deal could encompass areas where the UK and US are more similar (such as financial services and products) without having to defer to some other European concerns. However some have warned the mis-match between the two economies could lead to “TTIP on steroids” meaning that the US could hold vastly more sway in any such deal than the UK could. From a Northern Irish perspective if hormone-treated beef or chlorine-washed chicken were allowed into the local market-place as a result of the deal its uncertain what the consequences could be for the local agri-food sector, but my guess is they wouldn’t be helpful. And then there’s the NHS. Many are worried about the prospect of US companies buying their way into parts of the NHS privatised under the Conservative government. Hilary Clinton hasn’t said much on any such deal so far, most of the positive statements have come from Republicans in Congress, which is unlikely to reassure people on the NHS issue. Both current US secretaries for trade and commerce denied any bilateral UK-US talks outside the TTIP were ongoing this week.

The different theoretical options for post-Brexit trade remain just that. What seems likely from interaction with Foreign Staff since the vote is that there is certain to be a degree of jostling between Boris Johnson (Foreign Office), Liam Fox (International Trade) and Davis. It’s not known how these three Breixteers will work together, but an inevitable tug of war (or Eaton wall game) will surely have to take place to see who can deliver what with which resources and when. Splitting it across the three departments might have increased Theresa May’s control of direction of travel it will likely bring us no closer to what post-Brexit trade will look like.

  • anon

    I’m no David Davis fan, but if you want people to take your critique of his comments seriously you should perhaps not start off by consistently misrepresenting them.

  • hotdogx

    If this is true then : Another incompetent viceroy chosen by the British. When the pain of Brexit finally hits, it will hit hardest in NI, as the last priority for Britain and a Ui will become quite an acceptable situation for constitutional question fence sitters, and there will be no bitter together campaign to keep Ni in the Uk.

  • Reader

    Paul Hagan : However 10 times the size of the EU would of course be…
    …100 million square km. I.e about 25% of the land area of the earth.
    Looks achievable, especially since you can get half way there with 5 countries not even including Russia.

  • Lex.Butler

    Of course he can negotiate deals before the two year time limit. Just put a start date in them after the EU deals end. A bigger issue is that we don’t have the staff to do all these deals (nor do other countries) so expect most treaties etc will just continue as before…

  • terence patrick hewett

    In 1922 they did not put a price on freedom: it is rather a depressing spectacle watching their descendants putting a price on theirs. Perhaps they have been staying at the Patrick Pearse Motel for too long.

  • Kevin Breslin

    People need to understand what the WTO trade arrangement is … it’s pretty much the default … say if you wanted to trade goods between Tanzania to Tonga … you go by the WTO terms.

    It’s very simple what the UK has to do to get them … Sit on their hands.

    The UK already has WTO deals with most of the world inside the EU or not … it’s possible that without a FTA after the triggering of Article 50, UK industries boost their business connections in these areas, dido EU states as well obviously … as insurance measures against the worst.

    They are costly financially and logistically but the advantages are probably that they remain consistent and stable in the face of (peacetime/sanction free) political events.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Here’s the US’s FTA map … assuming the UK simply became the 51st state and throw the US in as well I doubt that that covers one sixth of the planet.

    This is a country 50 times bigger than the UK population wise. I see this perhaps maybe 3 or 4 times the size of the EU. 5 if TTIP is actually introduced.

    If Davis means an area it can trade within, you are pretty much talking the vast majority of the landmass bar nations with full scale sanctions.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Here’s the European Union’s map by comparison.

  • Paul Hagan

    well it was economy not land mass, perhaps I should have made that more explicit

  • anon

    Don’t you mean the US is 5 times bigger? Unless Donald Trump is right and 3bn immigrants have just arrived in the States.

  • Reader

    Wow, impressive: “Ongoing FTA negotiations”, “Joint declaration of Cooperation”.
    And do you really think the UK can’t get deals with NAFTA, Australia, India faster than a lumbering, protectionist EU is doing?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yeah right, I’m sure they are wetting themselves in fear of denying the UK their heart’s desires.

    Nations can say No to the USA, China … but saying No to the UK is utterly unthinkable.

    How popular is TTIP in the UK, and how much lumbering and protectionism is actually coming from British Brexit supporters who want agriculture subsidized and the old industries back?

    Can’t have your cake and eat it.

  • Reader

    More than that, you need to defend your claim, because what you quoted, and what the linked article actually says, is ‘expects the UK to negotiate a trading area “probably 10 times the size” of the European Union.’
    “area” – That seems clear enough to me.
    By the way, since we’re on the topic of wilful misinterpretation, were you really convinced by the New Statesman article (neither funny nor clever) where DD referred to an Internal Border; and do you actually believe that means he was unaware of the existence of the RoI?

  • Reader

    Sheesh Kevin – all I pointed out was that the EU is lumbering and protectionist. Both of those are severe disadvantages when negotiating trade deals. Aren’t you even going to disagree?

  • Paul Hagan

    I think the incident referred to in the NS article was a bit of a gaffe, I don’t believe he’s unaware of the existence of the RoI. That’s why I wrote “Aside from minor discrepancies under pressure…” then continued with the more serious stuff. Thanks for your feedback

  • Obelisk

    Speaking of the pain of Brexit, for all the nice talk of the future relationship between the UK and the EU just look at who the EU has appointed to be their point man on the negotiations…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36901875

  • Kevin Breslin

    Do you even know what protectionism is … and why nations actually resort to it?

    Every nation has sacred cows.

    The idea that developed and developing nations were just saving themselves for Mr. Britain is what I would expect from an uneducated loyalist or British nationalist, not someone reasonably enough intelligent like yourself.

    The delusion of the UK getting a bigger Free Trade Area than say the United States or multiple orders of magnitude bigger than Switzerland is beyond contemptible?

    If only the massive glut of propaganda actually translated into exportable goods rather than entitlements forged on borrowed money.

    https://youtu.be/cuFRiHt9SUI?t=2m54s

    The only trade I see from that sort of ego is a trade in insults. Words are even less tangible than thin gruel don’t you know?

  • Reader

    Kevin – EU trade negotiations are hampered because the EU is protectionist and lumbering – agree or disagree?
    Free Trade is all a matter of attitude, not size, not power.

  • cu chulainn

    However you can only get a WTO trade deal when you join the WTO, which the UK will have to apply to do.

  • Thomas Barber

    “The delusion of the UK getting a bigger Free Trade Area than say the United States or multiple orders of magnitude bigger than Switzerland is beyond contemptible”

    Oh I dunno Kevin in this ever changing world but one things is for sure “Sterling will survive” the oncoming financial meltdown the world is facing unlike the Euro never mind the very real possiblity of civil war within some EU countries like France and Germany and a Nato/American war with Russia. China, Canada, Australia, India and USA are all interested in new trade deals with Britain. If Britain manages to negiotate some kind of trade deal with as many EU countries that it can and manages to negiotate trade deals with those countries around the rest of the world who want trade deals then its a good move by Britain. Why have a 10p mix up when you can have a box of Milk Tray.

  • Kevin Breslin

    UK is already a member of the WTO. I don’t believe it would be disqualified for leaving the EU.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh oh oh … Let me go into a shop with an “attitude” and see if that shifts the prices on the shelves!

    I’m going to get a free car in exchange for “attitude”.

    Maybe cure cancer with 10ccs of “attitude”.

    No one else tried “attitude” … the Brexit lobby were handpicked by God to reshape global economics with a new wonderful gnosis that the rest of the planet’s population and no other nation state on the planet has ever even tried before, but the UK is bound to get it first time with no political disagreements or economic problems in their way.

    Americans, Australians, Europeans, Korea, Japan, Canada, Swiss, Middle Eastern Economies, Russia, China, even Taiwan or Hong Kong !!!

    They’re all lumbering and protectionist I guess, but don’t worry they are going to change their mind because 17 million people took a vote for the UK to leave a IGO.

    Trade negotiators, who needs them? The U.K. Brexit lobby doesn’t, it has “attitude”.

    It’s a special little snowflake in an unspectacularly frustrating world!

    Free Trade dates back to the time of Adam Smith, perhaps further back and was always a limited legal trade treaty contract affair. It was an idealism not a realism and Smith even knew that.

    The U.K. Had a bloody big empire and still couldn’t get major free trade deals with nations it had no sovereignty over.

    Time to look at your “Empire (of Brexit’s) New Clothes” with a small gram of criticism do you not think?

  • Kevin Breslin

    If the Euro collapses as the second largest reserve currency in the world it takes the UK with it. It’d produce a Wall Street like crash event.

    All I see from the Brexit lobby is a high reliance on dodgy salesmanship and superstition. How the mighty empire has fallen.

  • Gopher

    The U.K. has still some slack in the system, Heathrow’s third runway will probably be the totem for other nations to gauge whether the nation can make Brexit be a success. It would generate momentum. Hopefully our idiots on the hill will get a good deal round the expansion of Heathrow.

  • chrisjones2

    UK Foreign Affairs Committee considered all this in its report. The Consensus estimate of Brexit was +/-2% of GDP ie broadly neutral in the medium term

  • Katyusha

    That’s funny, because Mr. Davis’s spokesman refers to size by GDP, not area.
    Come on, what would be the point in measuring the economies you trade with in terms of geographical area?

    According to Mr Davis’s spokesman, he was referring to a “negotiated trade area” – the total number of countries with which the EU has a bilateral trade deal – deals specifically negotiated between two countries.

    He says:

    “The EU has negotiated trade deals with countries whose total GDP is around $8 trillion. Chile has negotiated trade deals with economies valued at over $70 trillion.

    “If we get new trade deals with just the US and China then we would have trade deals with economies valued at almost $30 trillion. And at the same time of course we will also be seeking deals with Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Indonesia – and many others.”

    To be fair, it’s just a slip on Davis’s part. It might be reasonable to negotiate trade deals with other economies totalling 10x the GDP of the EU’s external partners. But what he said was 10x the size of the European Union, which is something different.

    Still it doesn’t inspire confidence. I thought we’d dodged a bullet when May dropped Oliver Letwin from the role. Davis looks like he may not be much better. I thought we’d got through the farce stage of Brexit and finally knuckled down to business. Not quite.

  • Katyusha

    If Britain manages to negiotate some kind of trade deal with as many EU countries that it can

    It can’t. It can’t negotiate with individual EU countries, it has to negotiate with the EU as a whole. The EU is not a box of Milk Tray where you can leave out the ones you don’t like.

    And living in Germany at the moment, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nation further from civil war. But then again, I grew up in the North 😉

  • AntrimGael

    The appointment by the EU of Michel Barnier as their chIef negotiator with Britain re: BREXIT has upped the ante and NOT in Ireland’s favour, North and South. Several British and Irish economic journalists have declared it an ‘act of war’ by the EU and a deliberate attempt by the EU to severely punish Britain and send out the message to other EU members not to think of even dissenting. I think this bodes nothing but grey clouds ahead for us and gravely raises the prospect of physical trade barriers back on the island. Worryingly the EU are now viewing the Good Friday Agreement as an British/irish ‘problem’ which has to play second fiddle to wider EU interests and something Britain and Ireland will have to sort out themselves. I think Ireland may be hung out to dry here by the EU and told they will ultimately have to police the border on the EU’s behalf if Ireland is to remain a full member. The French and Germans will pass the buck to Dublin who will be told to choose.

  • Paul Hagan

    Here’s hoping, it will be interesting to see which big infrastructure projects get the green light in the next few years, such as Heathrow and HS2

  • Reader

    Mr Davis’s spokesman *also* referred to size by “total number of countries”. In fact, there are so many ways that what DD said actually makes sense that it seem perverse to claim an interpretation where it doesn’t.

  • Reader

    So many challenges in life just boil down to approaching the situation with confidence and determination.

  • hgreen

    Dont see a problem if he was looking to cap banker bonuses and crackdown on short selling.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh please, It takes confidence and determination to do anything. It takes confidence and determination to open a shop.

    Opening a shop doesn’t make it successful.

    It comes back to would you trust your life a confident determined arrogant homeopath or a cautious reluctant medical practioner who’s weighing up the choices on the back of the experience.

    Do you trust someone determined to waste their time doing something that doesn’t work?

    There are things a positive mental attitude cannot sell. I have never seen a group of people who want others to work hard for that group’s own dreams than the most high profile members of the Leave movement.

    It’s a great gig if you can get it, being a passenger in life.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I can take constructive criticism, yes it is 5 times the UK population, maybe 7 times the “True Brit” population that would satisfy the British far right and around 20 times the number of Leave supporters.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Have you ever considered that the other nations involved have their own interests to look after ergo many would not even do a deal with Switzerland or the UK either.

    The U.K. Doesn’t even really have an agreed trade policy with itself to be honest with you.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/27/sovereignty-corporations-liam-fox-eu

  • Sir Rantsalot

    ‘Let me go into a shop with an “attitude” and see if that shifts the prices on the shelves!’

    The more you spend, the more you save ! 😃

  • Paul Hagan

    Honestly in my dealings with Barnier I always found him very convivial and cooperative so this “act of war” stuff is a little baffling but we’ll see what comes out of this

  • chrisjones2

    And better not to be in the EU at that point

  • Sir Rantsalot

    You don’t know about the possible civil war erupting in Germany and France because you get your info from MSM. Everything TB said is spot on and he obviously gets his info from independent media and not MSM.
    Try googling the subject and you will find tons of news on the pending revolt by Germans and French who want to save their country from deliberate destruction by the current puppet leaders.
    Her is a couple of random articles.

    “Europe seen moving towards ‘civil war’ as leaders repress citizens while appeasing Muslim migrants”
    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/europe.seen.moving.towards.civil.war.as.leaders.repress.angry.citizens.while.appeasing.muslim.migrants/78867.htm

    “Civil unrest and street fighting has begun in Germany”
    http://speisa.com/modules/articles/index.php/item.1988/civil-unrest-and-street-fighting-has-begun-in-germany.html

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not at all necessarily true … there were parts of America better after the Wall Street Crash than parts of Europe.

    Anyway, the UK seems to be the one with the financial difficulties at the moment.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Also the greatest defenders of Free trade in the globe, the USA and the UK are also the biggest practitioners of protectionism in their own backyards. UK top 5 in the EU.

    If you want to have free trade, then go to Mozambique or Somalia.

    No Labour rights, No import quotas, No state subventions, No immigration restrictions, No patent laws….

    Pretty much path of No resistance economy rather than a path of most resistance that western privileged states do to ensure quality goods.

  • Roger

    Ireland, North and South.
    What about Ireland East and West? And Northern Ireland North, South, East and West?

  • Roger

    Keep telling yourself that. I don’t think anyone believes it. Do you?

  • Roger

    What was the price you refer to in 1922

  • Roger

    Many treaties can’t continue as before. They’re treaties between the EU and third parties. U.K. Won’t be in EU.

  • Roger

    Do you think he knows the name of the only state with a land order with the U.K.?

    NS article seemed confused about it.

  • Enda

    Don’t worry Roger. Everyone else knew what he meant.

  • Katyusha

    Ha. I get my information from my eyes and ears, Sir.
    I’m familiar enough with the MSM from multiple countries to realise it always has its own agenda.
    I’m familiar enough with the “independent media” to realise it is generally hysterical right-wing nonsense, which only exist to validate their own fantasies.

    I lived in NI long enough to know what civil unrest looks like, and in England long enough to recognise real social and ethnic division. West Germany is a peaceful and harmonious haven in comparison.

    I’m sure “Christian Today” is a perfectly unbiased news source with no agenda, and that the only source they cite, Pamela Geller, of all people, is an authority on the impending civil war in Europe and is not simply a far-right islamophobic zealot, who was personally banned entering the UK by our then Home Secretary, Theresa May.

  • terence patrick hewett

    “I have my price – it’s rather high
    about the level of your eye
    but if you’re nice to me I’ll try
    to lower it for you –

    To lower it
    To lower it
    Upon the rope they knit
    from yellow grass in Paraguay
    where knitting is taboo.

    Some knit them purl, some knit them plain
    some knit their brows of pearl in vain.
    Some are so plain, they try again
    to tease the wool of love
    O felony in Paraguay
    there’s not a soul in Paraguay who’s worth the dreaming of.
    They say,
    who’s worth the dreaming of.”

    I rather think that in 1922 freedom was a pearl beyond price.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    If you are using the terms ‘far right’ and ‘islamophobic’ then you are following MSM propaganda to demonize anyone who has objections to muslim migrants. What MSM calls far right is usually nothing of the like and is usually normal peoples concerned views.
    As stated, I linked 2 random search results on the subject. Feel free to read the 100s of other sites.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Perhaps they regard appointing someone who acts in a competent and professional manner and won’t be prepared to acquiesce to every request and demand that the UK makes as ‘an act of war’?

    Barnier will be working to ensure that Brexit does the least damage possible to the EU remaining states.

    If people don’t like that then perhaps they should have thought about it a little earlier.

  • Skibo

    …The UK could survive and do well outside [the EU]. We published our
    research which suggested that the worst-case scenario outside the EU would
    be 2% GDP worse off and 1.6% better off, depending on the policies of the UK
    Government and the successor deal with the EU. That would also be important in the trading relationship with the EU, because it remains our biggest trade partner.
    So not exactly +/- 2%. but sure why quote it exactly.
    All depends on the result of the Brexit negotiations. With an economy of 64m people verses an economy of 500m, I know who I would be putting my money on to gain the most.

  • Gopher

    I think it is more in the next couple of months rather than years especially with regards Heathrow. Hopefully the team at Westminister won’t do anything stupid and get us genuine competition on the route. and the end of passenger duty. I’m not sure we will get any infrastructure in NI as our parties pull in too many opposite directions to put a coherent case for anything.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Open Europe suggested a 3% drop in GDP on a worst case scenario.

  • Skibo
  • Kev Hughes

    Agreed. I’m in ‘Schland also and this place is not some hotbed of discontent, ala the North during the 80s.

  • chrisjones2

    More an Act of war between the Commission and the Council Of Ministers – one the the perennial and debilitating problems of the EU

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…as the best estimate …but no doubt you have far more formidable independent sources from the bar of the Dog and Duck?

  • Paul Hagan

    I fear your later point may be accurate. It will be interesting to see if they can all pull together on anything as regards the Brexit negotiations.

  • Gopher

    No chance we had a golden opportunity to get infrastructure investment in that we are not getting any thing like 3rd Runway HS2 but our eejits want to fight Stormont battles on a national stage.

  • Roger

    Thanks for that. Must visit Pataguay.

  • anon

    I prefer Secxit to BrexitSec

  • Brendan Heading

    I can think of two major figures in politics, off the top of my head, who believe(d) that major political change boiled down to confidence and determination. One of them believes that these comprise a strategy which will require Mexico to fund the construction of a wall along the border with the USA. The other one believed that they would help him be successful in his invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

    This is a little facetious, but comments like this make me think of the ongoing spread of anti-intellectualism that is behind what is going on in Western politics and which led us to dark places in the past. Almost every expert and every business leader, with a few notable exceptions, believed that it was best to stay in the EU. Since those who support brexit cannot rely on expert knowledge or experience to support their case, they are reduced to, essentially, accusing their critics of being unpatriotic (ie. lacking in confidence in the country’s capacity). We’ve been there before.

    Confidence and determination are fine characteristics, but it’s not that simple. Determination is, in the large part, derived from confidence. We know already that the UK has no confidence when it comes to standing up to major global trading states. That is why it was bullied into allowing China to dump steel on the world market, which led directly to 5000 jobs being at risk.

    To build confidence you need certainty and knowledge. At the moment, there is no certainly, because there is no plan. There is no plan because the UK has no idea how to approach the matter. The plan, and its execution requires experience, diplomatic skills, a knowledge of global trading activity and how it relates to the world economy; a sense of what your opponents are likely to accept; and most importantly political backing to sell whatever deal you manage to get. Very little of any of this exists in the UK.

  • Angry Mob

    Yes, the western British Isle.

  • Don Kavanagh

    Thomas, can you tell me your source for the contention that China, Canada, US, Oz, etc are doing anymore than saying “Well obviously we’d look at a trade deal somewhere along the line”? From where I sit in the South Pacific, all the government energies are being expended on the trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which would include the aforementioned and many more besides. I keep seeing people claim that countries are queueing up to do deals with the UK, but can’t find a shred of evidence that this is so.

  • Reader

    Brendan Heading: This is a little facetious, but comments like this make me think of the ongoing spread of anti-intellectualism that is behind what is going on in Western politics and which led us to dark places in the past.
    Actually, I was on a hunt for more trigger words for Kevin’s new-found Anglophobia. However, that became boring after – ‘protectionist”, “attitude”, “confidence”, “determination”
    I have no objection to intellectual endeavour; but I do object to groupthink, and to the sort of pseudo-modern conservatism that would keep us on board an EU that is in decline and cannot react even to save itself. The gravy train was heading towards the buffers – best to get off.