Canada deal without following EU rules? Nope.

by Hugo Dixon | 12.11.2019

Mary Poppins had “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Boris Johnson has his own magic word: “Super Canada Plus.” If he says it loud enough, he hopes the British people will give him a majority in the coming election.

The latest outing for Super Canada Plus comes in Johnson’s infamous weekend video which enticed Nigel Farage to stand down in seats that the Tories won in 2017. The Prime Minister says: “I want to stress [the future EU deal] will… not [be] based on any kind of political alignment… We can have a free trade agreement on the model of a Super Canada Plus arrangement… We can get a fantastic new free trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.

There are three things wrong with this statement. First, however many superlatives and pluses you add to Canada, it doesn’t change the fact that the country has a far worse deal with the EU than we do. It barely covers financial services, our largest industry. It doesn’t remove customs checks either – and so would gum up the supply lines of our manufacturing industries.

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    Second, Canada took seven years to agree its deal with the EU. Johnson claims he can do a similar deal by the end of next year. As a result, we risk a disastrous “no deal” Brexit in less than 14 months. 

    Third, the EU won’t give us even a Canada-style agreement unless we agree to lots of regulatory alignment. The political declaration sketching out our future relationship with the EU makes this crystal clear. It says:

    Given the Union and the United Kingdom’s geographic proximity and economic interdependence, the future relationship must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field. The precise nature of commitments should be commensurate with the scope and depth of the future relationship and the economic connectedness of the Parties. These commitments should prevent distortions of trade and unfair competitive advantages. (Paragraph 77)

    Johnson can’t have his cake and eat it. He either agrees deep regulatory alignment – or he can’t get a deep free trade agreement. He can’t even get the same deal that Canada has because of our “geographic proximity and economic interdependence”. The EU is rightly concerned that we would otherwise compete with it unfairly.

    This isn’t just what the EU thinks. It’s in a document the Prime Minister negotiated and now foolishly boasts about.

    All he can do is sing along to Mary Poppins and hope the voters don’t see through his pyramid of piffle.

    Oh, SuperCanada-gilisticexpialidocious
    Even though the sound of it
    Is something quite atrocious
    If you say it loud enough
    You’ll always sound precocious

    The opening paras were tightened up shortly after publication

    The headline was updated on December 4

    Edited by James Earley

    Tags: Categories: Brexit, UK Politics

    3 Responses to “Canada deal without following EU rules? Nope.”

    • Well, better start working on the design and engineering of border check spaces to be constructed North of Carlisle and Newcastle. Uncle Don no doubt has a few bits of border wall to make things look more real! Really smart is giving the check points radio alphabetic names. One of them will be check point Charlie then! How exciting!

    • It seems that the (so-called) PM no longer does serious interviews with media news-correspondents. Which is a pity because it appears that the BBC has finally grown a pair and now actually challenges many of the statements made by our leaders. Of course, this may reduce the number of MPs prepared to answer questions…the start of a procession of “Empty-chairing” by the cowardly. But, it is a healthy beginning, and I would like to see more questions constructed by economists to challenge this bright new future. Of course, as David Davis said, Brexit was never about the economy…but the government seems prepared to defend Brexit on the basis of an economic benefit, so some in-depth challenges would be worthwhile. Also, to correct the lady who complained “Your GDP is not my GDP”, it would be good to relate a poor GDP to consequences on expenditure on health, pensions and the rest. The idea that we can return to the “Good Old Days” is ridiculous. In fact, apart from us being younger, they were not really so good, were they?

    • George Brooks,

      I don’t want to be critical of what you wrote, but I think it reads better this way:

      “It seems that the (so-called) PM no longer does serious interviews with media news-correspondents…. because it appears that the BBC has finally grown a pair and now actually challenges many of the statements made by our leaders.”

      Cause and effect I suspect.