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Analysis

Fox’s failures prove Britain is more ‘global’ inside EU

by Luke Lythgoe | 06.02.2019

Liam Fox’s department for international trade is looking woefully unprepared for Brexit. Don’t forget, this is the minister who claimed he would have trade deals with 60 plus countries that we already enjoy thanks to our EU membership rolled over by the Brexit deadline.

Now, with 51 days until the Brexit deadline, Fox has managed to rollover precisely zero of the EU’s 40 or so deals. The CBI has today warned of the “hugely damaging implications” of Fox’s failure for “relationships across the globe… from Japan to Turkey” if we crash out of the EU without these deals signed.

And that’s not the only example of the government underestimating the complexities of going it alone in global trade. Ministers have told businesses that they are considering cutting swathes of import tariffs on food and goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit, The Times reports. The idea is to protect shoppers from double-digit price rises when tariffs are slapped on EU imports overnight.

But it’s not that simple. Thanks to WTO rules – so beloved by the Brexiters – we would have to reduce our tariffs with all other countries around the world to zero too. That would open up UK farmers and other producers to cheap goods from across the globe, including agricultural giants like the US, Australia or Brazil. As the head of the British Ceramic Confederation told The Times, it was a “foolhardy action” that could “ruin” her industry.

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It would also make cutting new trade deals much harder. Where’s the UK’s negotiating leverage if tariffs have already been unilaterally slashed to zero?

But Fox is not the only minister who is making a mess of our post-Brexit trade links. Chris Grayling is apparently no longer welcome in Calais due to his “completely disrespectful” when he visited on Tuesday, according to the port’s chairman.

These out-of-their-depth Brexiters are proving just how complex and interconnected trade is in the 21st century. Their travails have blown a hole in the Leave campaign’s defiant “Global Britain” narrative, since adopted by the government. The prospect of being an “independent trading nation” is looking less glorious and much more of a headache.

The fact is that, as a member of the EU, the UK could punch above its weight on the trading world stage. As part of a bloc of 500 million consumers, we could help drive favourable deals with other giant global economies. The EU’s latest free trade agreement with Japan, which we risk losing just weeks after it came into force, is a prime example.

But by ourselves, as a medium-sized economy, we risk being bullied by big global players like Trump’s America. Although Brexiters refuse to see the logic, by staying in the EU we are a more global Britain.

4 Responses to “Fox’s failures prove Britain is more ‘global’ inside EU”

  • What is the fuss about? Leavers knew exactly what they meant when the voted for Leave. They knew that Boris was telling lies..but he was just the warm-up anyway. They knew that Fox was telling lies, because he had previous in this. They were very clear that the Irish border was not a problem. They were very clear that outside of the EU we would be in control of our borders, of immigration and our laws. They were even clearer that the car industry was no longer needed, that Euratom was not needed, that the EU would beat a path to our door to buy all our unique products. They were clear that Rees-Mogg, such a nice man, woudl take care of everything. They were clear that Leave meant Leave and that May would fill in all the minor details. They were clear that all the planning would be done by our “betters”. And then Tusk spoils it by revealing that there has been no planning done, that our “betters” are in fact a bunch of short-termists who never thought through anything and have never delivered anything more complicated than an amendment to someone else’s work. And how annoying that the EU have concluded a trade deal with Japan……of course that won’t affect the cars made here…will it?

  • George, a very fair summary except for your inclusion of JRM. He can’t be accused of short term thinking……after all, he has said that it maybe fifty years before we see the benefit of Brexit. How fortunate to have this prescience.

  • You blame brexiteers for the possibility of a crash out – it is the composite responsibility of all factions in the U.K. Parliament, who have all dashed around like headless chickens instead of getting behind the deal on the table. But ratgerksy the njsne fir where we are at squarely with the EU! Had they given David Cameron anything reasonable when he originally approached them for much needed change in the EU, we wouldn’t be where we are. Stop being apologists for an EU which allows its MPS to submit expenses claims without the need for receipts – just a small example why we are headed out!

  • Why anyone thought Fox would succeed I really don’t know. This man has proved himself to be both thoroughly dishonest and untrustworthy. Great shame he wasn’t put before the Courts for Misconduct in a Public Office and/or Official Secrets Act offences at the time of his shenanigans with Werritty.