A no-deal Brexit with UK-EU trade on WTO terms is the best hope for Brexiteers

Tim Dawson: Under May’s plans, there can be no Free Trade Deal with America

President Trump has stated the obvious. Mrs May’s deal is very good for the EU, and makes a possible Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States impossible.

I’m not sure why anyone on either the Remain side or the Government’s – they’re pretty much the same thing now, anyway – is taken aback by this.

Mrs May’s deal would tie us into the EU in perpetuity, our trading arrangements conducted by the EU on our behalf – giving it the power to use our markets as a bargaining chip in its activity, with our own government having no say in the matter (though we might be allowed to send a civil servant along to observe).

Any notions of the United Kingdom conducting its own trade policy in any meaningful way under the Government’s plans are dead.

The document pays lip service to the possibility, and Mrs May and her Government salespersons are keen to emphasise that deals are technically negotiable. Well, on a very semantic level, perhaps. However, because our taxation and regulations must reflect the EU’s (their arrangements constitute our ‘floor’), we will not be able to display the economic latitude and nimbleness required to engage effectively with great free trading nations like the United States.

This is a catastrophic position for the Government to put us in and it concisely torpedoes much of what is so attractive about leaving the EU.

As well as taking control of our laws and borders, free trade was always at the heart of Brexit. Even if the current Conservative leadership are squeamish about free market capitalism, the average voter understands the immense benefits conducting our own independent trade policy will bring. Of course, goods being sold into the European Union will still need to meet its unnecessarily restrictive requirements. But the EU is a declining bloc and its demands should not be at the heart of any meaningful post-Brexit policy.

The writing has been on the wall with the United States for some time. We have known since we first had sight of “Chequers” that it would not allow us to secure the free trade deals which are so important for the success of Brexit – and so essential to the long-term economic prosperity of our country.

It is perhaps ironic that, after Barack Obama outraged British people by suggesting a post-EU UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a deal, we have installed a British government which is attempting – despite a White House enthusiastic about trading with us – to remove us from the queue altogether.

Rather than ruling out a Free Trade Agreement with the US, Parliament should rule out Mrs. May’s Brexit deal. Exiting on WTO terms will give us the flexibility to engage properly with the US – and conduct an honest free trade negotiation with the European Union once we’ve left.

A WTO Deal is not just the “least worst” option. It is the best option – let’s take it.