After saying the European Union’s free trade deals could form the basis of Britain’s agreements once it has left the bloc, Theresa May has been accused of pursuing a “cut and paste” Brexit.
The Prime Minister said she wanted to make use of the particular trade agreement that is being finalised between Tokyo and Brussels as the starting point for a future pact with Britain. She is currently in Japan for a three-day trip to discuss post-Brexit trade in investment.
However, critics noted that the “absurd” approach “defied all logic” and had decreased the role of Secretary Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, to being “left in a room with a photocopier”.
PM May said: “When we leave the European Union, there’s obviously a number of trade deals that the EU has with other countries and we are looking at the possibility of those being able to be brought over into trade deals with the United Kingdom.”
The Prime Minister is assumed to reiterate the United Kingdom’s commitment to a swift conclusion of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement during the trip.
She will also hope for an agreement from Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan that Japan and the United Kingdom should work to make sure that this agreement can create the bilateral arrangement’s basis “quickly after Brexit.”
The trip comes as the newest round of talks about the Brexit continue in Brussels, with top European Union figures continuing to issue downbeat assessments regarding the state of the discussions.
Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator, said the guidelines presented by Brussels were intended for “serious and constructive negotiations”, but there must be “clear UK positions on all issues.”
On the other hand, Guy Verhostadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator stated that the “slow progress” in the discussions hinted that it would be “very difficult” to move onto discussing the trade relationship in the future by October as planned.
As a result of Brexit, Britain will have the chance to negotiate its own bespoke free trade deals with countries around the world.
The United Kingdom can hold talks with other countries to establish the groundwork for post-Brexit free trade deals, but the UK cannot sign them officially until it has left the bloc.Opponents have been swift to point out that the approach of basing the deals on current EU arrangements does not match the lofty rhetoric of the EU referendum campaign.
Opponents have been fast to point out that the approach of basing the deals on current Europen Union arrangements does not match the lofty rhetoric of the EU referendum campaign.
Sir Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, said: “Brexiteers promised a new dawn of improved trade deals across the world. But rather than jet-setting around the globe, Liam Fox might as well be left in a room with a photocopier.
“The Government’s Brexit strategy now defies all logic. It is not even asking Japan for a bespoke trade deal. India has already told us they won’t give us one. The Government should not be surprised if China says the same.
“Far from bagging lots of new trade deals, the Government is simply trying to cut and paste our existing arrangements. Its Brexit strategy has just reached new levels of absurdity.”
A supporter of the pro-EU campaign group Open Britain, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, echoed this line of attack.
He stated: “Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson told us that a global Britain needed to leave the EU to sign new and better trade deals, but it turns out the best the Government is aiming for is to copy and paste deals we already have through our membership of the EU.”The Government’s position is absurd. They are pulling out of the Customs Union, which will damage our economy, in order to sign trade deals which will be no better – and could easily be worse – than the ones we have now.”
“The Government’s position is absurd. They are pulling out of the Customs Union, which will damage our economy, in order to sign trade deals which will be no better – and could easily be worse – than the ones we have now.”