Former British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Director-General John Longworth is to become the new co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, as the pre-eminent campaign group sets out a plan for Britain to become a “beacon of global trade” after quitting the Single Market.
Mr Longworth chose to resign from his BCC post during the EU referendum campaign in order to speak freely in favour of Brexit, despite pressure from Downing Street.
The Leave Means Leave report, ‘Going Global Without Delay’, launched today rejects the so-called Norway and Swiss options for a trade deal with the EU because they are unsatisfactory and such arrangements would not allow the UK to regain control over its borders.
Instead, it urges ministers to attempt to secure a zero tariff free trade deal (similar to the deal Canada is set to sign at the end of October) with the EU once they have set in train the formal process of leaving by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. They should also make it clear at the outset that if no deal was reached with the maximum two years timeframe for negotiations, Britain should go it alone, trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules and seeking a Free Trade deal with other nations and blocs.
Mr Longworth joins businessman Richard Tice as Co-Chairman of Leave Means Leave. The campaign group has argued that “no deal is better than a bad deal” as Britain exits the EU and prominent supporters include former ministers Owen Paterson MP, Dominic Raab MP, Sir Gerald Howarth MP, Peter Lilley MP and David Campbell Bannerman MEP.
The report sets out criteria the UK Government should use when securing a deal with the EU which includes negotiating “as near tariff-free free trade as possible”, to ensure that it is for the “UK Parliament to solely decide its laws and trade, migration, agriculture and fisheries policies” and for Article 50 to be triggered “no later than Q1 2017”.
The report considers four principle trade options available to the Government– the Norway Option, the Swiss Option, the Canadian Option and the Global Free Trade Option.
The report found merit in the Canadian Option, “notably that Canada secured an agreement to eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs despite being only the EU’s 12th largest trading partner and with the EU running a small surplus with Canada”. This is very promising for the UK – “the EU’s largest trading partner selling well over £150 bn to the EU, a magnitude around eight times greater than Canada’s trade.”
The benefits of the Canadian Option include saving the £14.8 bn net per annum from the UKs EU membership fee, regaining full control over the UK’s borders and exempting the UK from the European Court of Justice
The major concern with the Canadian Option is the seven years it took to negotiate with the EU who are “notoriously slow”.
To overcome this issue, the report says that “the UK Government should also be very clear with the EU at the outset of negotiations that if a zero tariff deal cannot be struck within 24 months the UK will leave the EU and trade under WTO rules and we will not be bullied, or bounced into arrangements that do not meet the criteria test set out.”
At the same time, the report makes the case for the UK to “become a beacon of global free trade, encouraging cross border trade and investment, challenging other nation states, and the EU itself, to follow its example.”
A Global Free Trade Option would see the UK offer to remove all tariffs on imports from other nations providing they reciprocate.
The benefits of adopting the Global Free Trade Option include the UK regaining its seat and vote on the World Trade Organisation, restoring sovereign control to the UK Parliament and securing control of Britain’s borders.
The report concludes “because the UK is already free to trade under existing international law using WTO rules, the EU leadership could not deny diplomatically or practically that the UK can take up this option. Economically and politically, unless the EU offers tariff-free access to the UK within 24 months of triggering Article 50 the Global Free Trade Option offering the most beneficial advantages and the fewest disadvantages this becomes the optimal option.”
John Longworth, Co-Chair of Leave Means Leave, said:
“I am delighted to join the Leave Means Leave campaign.
“The British people have voted for Brexit and the Government must deliver on this in full.
“I look forward to working with senior business figures and politicians backing the case for Britain making a clean break with the EU and securing trade deals with the rest of the world.
“We should leave no later than two years after Article 50, or earlier if EU negotiations stall.”
Commenting on the appointment of John Longworth as Co-Chair, Richard Tice, Co-Chair of Leave Means Leave, said:
“I look forward to working with John on this really important campaign.
“John played a crucial role in the Brexit campaign and I look forward to the extremely valuable input he brings to Leave Means Leave.
“He will be a vital asset in securing a successful Brexit deal the British people voted for.”