Trading on WTO terms after Brexit would not be the disaster many fear
SIR – Discussions in this country about post-Brexit arrangements with the EU would be more constructive if it were realised that there is no such thing as “no deal”. Trading with the EU on WTO terms is sometimes described as a cliff-edge, or “crashing out”.
In fact, WTO terms are the trading arrangements agreed by 123 countries (including the EU, on behalf of EU member countries), as the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Under that agreement, the EU cannot impose trading terms on Britain which are adverse to WTO terms. Various think tanks, Civitas for example, have calculated the net benefit to the Treasury tariffs on UK-EU trade under WTO terms, and suggested how Britain’s tariff surplus might be used to help UK industry consistent with WTO rules.
On the other hand, it is hard to see why the EU would offer the UK anything better than WTO terms, since, first, it would suggest that a nation could easily leave the EU, and secondly, any such deal would need to be approved by 27 national parliaments.
The sooner the Government realises that trade on WTO terms is a deal worth taking, and probably the only deal on offer, the better. Richard Jenkins
SIR – The Government’s primary responsibility is to get Brexit “done”, but it must be done well.
If we crash out of the EU, we risk serious environmental harm. Beautiful countryside around ports such as Dover could be turned into lorry parks. Upland farmers will face export tariffs of over 50 per cent. There will be consequences for fisheries, energy and the chemicals industry.
An acrimonious “no deal” is the worst deal of all. It is therefore vital for the Government to retain flexibility in the negotiations. Setting a firm and inflexible date and time for Brexit may give the Government “control of the narrative”, but no one will care about the narrative in a few years’ time. What they will care about is the sort of Brexit we managed to secure. Shaun Spiers Executive director, Green Alliance London SW1 SIR – Even if we reach agreement with the EU on the terms of our new relationship after Brexit, should we trust the EU to stick to it?
History suggests that Britain tends to abide by such rules, while other EU members are happy to ignore them. Roger Lindeck
Lancing, West Sussex
SIR – The more I hear of the antics of MPs as we sail towards the iceberg that is Brexit, the more I realise that I should not have voted to leave.
We are governed by a crowd of self-absorbed people, and the future fills me with gloom. Most EU laws have worked well, and the City has thrived. Time to call a halt on the whole disastrous adventure. David Wiltshire