New leaked documents have revealed that the UK will only be offered a basic trade deal after Brexit. The news is a fresh blow to Theresa May, who had hoped to negotiate a good trade deal with the EU. The papers prepared by the European Commission detail how the British government’s rejection of the single market and customs union leaves little room for negotiation in the upcoming trade talks.
The document was leaked to the Politico website, and was prepared by the EU’s negotiating team in order to aid the discussions on the future trade relationship with Britain. The paper reveals that the EU believes that the single market arrangements could not be matched in a new deal and the UK would most likely have to settle for a “standard FTA”
It’s also been leaked that the 27 EU member states have requested the possibility of an extension of the two years allowed article 50 negotiations. An EU diplomat said: “We all have our own domestic political situations to deal with and so I can’t imagine us having unanimity on extending article 50. And this extension would only be if we are near striking a deal and need a few extra weeks or months.”
The new UK could now be looking at a trade deal similar to that of Canada, which is not what Theresa May had hoped for. In a speech earlier in the year, May insisted that the UK government would be aiming for a much more ambitious deal, saying that “Compared with what exists between Britain and the EU today, [a Canada-style arrangement] would nevertheless represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit neither of our economies,”
The deal the EU has with Canada provides low tariffs, but food trade is restricted by quotas and other controls. It also provides no access to the single market for financial services. A senior EU official said the British cabinet in “cuckoo land” if it believed it could get a better deal.
The trade talks can’t begin until the EU and Britain have reached a financial settlement, which officials claim is up to the British government to provide an adequate offer. An EU official warned that it was up to the UK to finalize its divorce bill quickly so the next stage of negotiations, including trade, can begin. One official stated that “We would also like to see sufficient progress in December … There is no back-up plan. The back-up plan if needed, is to go on negotiating.
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