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Express: EU exit to speak UK trade bonanza: But only if we ditch Brussels fast

Date: 31 10 2016

BRITAIN is poised for a golden era of prosperity, research showed yesterday.

But the growth will only arrive after a full break from the EU and new trade deals with the world’s richest countries. A series of reports from Leave campaigners suggest that the economy has far more to gain from a sweeping cut in ties to Brussels than a watered-down “soft” Brexit.

Nations with economic muscle worth twice that of those that have agreed trade deals with the EU are already queueing up for agreements with a newly independent UK, according to research from the Change Britain pressure group.

And another report from the Leave Means Leave campaign said Britain’s financial services sector will gain an extra £12billion a year in revenues as a result of the UK taking back control of regulation.

The blueprints for the country’s future outside the EU came as a senior Cabinet minister set out an upbeat picture of Britain’s future trading links with other European nations. Business Secretary Greg Clark signalled that the Government can agree a tariff-free trade deal with Brussels after Brexit. Mr Clark told the BBC One Andrew Marr Show yesterday:

“It’s no more in their interest for there to be tariff barriers to the Continent and vice versa.

“So what I said is that our objective would be to ensure that we have continued access to the markets in Europe and vice versa without tariffs and without bureaucratic impediments.

“And that is what we want and how we’re going to approach those negotiations.”

Change Britain, a group founded partly by former Tory Cabinet minister Michael Gove and endorsed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, published a report yesterday showing that 14 countries have publicly expressed interest in having trade deals with the UK after Brexit.

The nations have economies worth around £17trillion in total, twice the size of those countries which already have a trade deal with the EU. China, Brazil, India, Argentina and Australia were among countries reported to be keen to agree trade deals after Brexit.

Britain can only capitalise on that potential by quitting the EU’s customs union, Change Britain said. Many nations have failed to conclude trade deals with the EU because of the difficulty of getting all 28 members to agree terms.

Lord Jones, a former Confederation of British Industry chief who was a trade minister in the last Labour government, said: “By leaving the single market we are of course taking back control of our borders and our courts, but of vital importance we will take back control of trade policy.

“We can strike trade deals with the rising economies of the 21st century, many of whom have already signalled their intentions to begin negotiations.

“This will allow British business to export to millions more customers and create thousands of new jobs throughout the UK. We should grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

The separate Leave Means Leave report predicted that Brexit will accelerate the UK financial services sector by freeing it from stifling Brussels red tape.

The report rejected claims that Brexit will damage the City. It concluded that financial services, which support two million jobs across the country, will be boosted after Brexit by being liberated from EU measures designed to shore up the floundering euro.

A Leave Means Leave spokesman said: “As the world’s leading financial sector, the UK is facing a very promising and profitable future outside the EU.

“Being able to cut unnecessary regulation and bring back legal jurisdiction to the UK opens up a whole host of opportunity.

“The EU, on the other hand, faces a very difficult struggle ahead. It is essential that they secure a deal with the UK on financial reciprocity or they will see capital move from Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid to London.”

The calls for a full Brexit follow a row within the Cabinet about how to approach the UK’s departure. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is understood to be leading pressure from Eurosceptic ministers for a more extreme break with Brussels, leaving membership of the EU’s single market and customs union.

Other ministers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, are in favour of a less dramatic cut in ties with Brussels to try to ensure a favourable trade deal with the EU.

Ministers’ hopes of getting a positive deal were bolstered last night when European Council President Donald Tusk made a plea for global free trade and resistance to tariffs and protectionist measures.

Speaking as the EU finally concluded a trade deal with Canada, Mr Tusk said: “We should be able to convince our citizens that free trade is in their interest and not just big companies and corporations.”

The alternative was a world of “isolationism and protectionism”, Mr Tusk added. Theresa May welcomed the EUCanada trade deal last night.

She said: “The UK has long been a powerful and positive force for free trade and we will continue to be one. Indeed I want Britain to be the global champion for free trade, recognising the opportunities of such trade deals for businesses and customers around the world.”

31st October 2016, Express