Ahead of her attendance at next week’s European Council meeting, Theresa May is being urged to accelerate preparations for the possibility of Britain reverting to trading with the EU under WTO rules if Brussels refuses a free trade deal.
The message has been delivered to the Prime Minister in a letter co-ordinated by Economists for Free Trade and signed by 60 economists, politicians and businesspeople, including former Cabinet Ministers Lord Lawson, Owen Paterson and David Jones; leading pro-Brexit business figures like Tim Martin, Sir Rocco Forte, John Mills; and eminent economists such as Patrick Minford, Ruth Lea and Roger Bootle.
They call upon her to take an “assertive” approach at the Thursday’s meeting in Brussels and to reaffirm that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The signatories accuse EU negotiators of intransigence in the Brexit talks and their call for the British Government to hasten preparations for trading on WTO terms is made in order that ministers would be ready to walk away from the table if the EU continues to frustrate efforts to secure a free trade agreement.
Reserving the right to walk away from the EU without a trade deal is necessary in order to have “real leverage in the Brexit endgame,” they assert, while the much-discussed £39 billion financial settlement “must be contingent on our securing a satisfactory free trade deal”.
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