The co-chair of Leave Means Leave said the UK could strike a Canada-style Brexit deal with the EU and complete negotiations by the end of this year.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk Mr Longworth said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, would be perfectly happy to accept a Canada-style deal between Britain and the EU.
Mr Longworth said: “If we offer the European Union a Canada-style deal, perfectly legitimate between two sovereign states because there is already one on the shelf between Canada and the EU, we will cover 98 percent of goods and 92 percent of agriculture.
“Britain could do even better than that in any deal that we put forward.
“Michel Barnier said to me very clearly that the EU would agree to that very quickly.
“We could complete it this year and there would be no need for a transition period.”
Speaking before the Prime Minister’s landmark Mansion House speech last week, Mr Longworth outlined the deal he thought the UK would walk away with the EU.
He said: “I think what we will end up doing is trading the world on World Trade Organisation terms which is perfectly acceptable and is actually the basis on which most world trade takes place and incidentally is what all the American exports to the EU and all the Chinese exports to the EU take place. So it is a perfectly reasonable structure.
“That will be our bedrock approach to trade. We will have an independent sovereign state, the UK which will be able to set its own laws, control its own borders and set its own regulations.
“But also, in addition to that, we will have a free trade deal between the UK and the EU between two sovereign states which is like the deal that the EU and Canada have, that will simply enable the free flow of goods.
“All this nonsense about traffic queues at Dover, the custom arrangements, it’s just admin, if you have a free trade deal nothing applies to those goods anyway so it really is scaremongering.”
The Brexiteer, who met Mr Barnier in Brussels in January, claimed he was “worried” that the implementation period with the European Union could go on too long and said the transition could simply last a “few weeks”.
“The whole idea of a transitional period is completely flawed and wrong,” he said.
“If we had a Canada-style trade deal, for example, which could be agreed by October, then all we need is a transitional period that mimics that deal for the number of weeks it takes to get all the member states to ratify a trade deal, that would literally be a few weeks.”
The Prime Minister ruled out Britain following a Canada-style deal during her Mansion House speech last Friday.
She said: “Others have suggested we negotiate a free trade agreement similar to that which Canada has recently negotiated with the EU – or trade on World Trade Organisation terms.
“But these options would mean a significant reduction in our access to each other’s markets compared to that which we currently enjoy.”
She later added: “I want to be straight with people – because the reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts.
“We are leaving the single market. Life is going to be different. In certain ways, our access to each other’s markets will be less than it is now. How could the EU’s structure of rights and obligations be sustained, if the UK – or any country – were allowed to enjoy all the benefits without all of the obligations? So we need to strike a new balance. But we will not accept the rights of Canada and the obligations of Norway.”
The President of the European Council Donald Tusk rejected Theresa May’s Brexit vision for a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement this week and suggested a Canada-style deal was the only option.
He said only a Canada-style free-trade agreement with no tariffs on goods was available for Brexit Britain and he made no mention of special treatment for the City of London.
“This will be the first FTA in history that loosens economic ties instead of strengthening them,” he said. “We will enter the negotiations with an open, positive and constructive mind but also with realism.”
The Council President declared a “pick and mix” approach for a non-member state was out of the question.
March 9th, 2018: Express