A Canada-style deal with the EU should be Britain’s goal – but there’s only one way to achieve it

The Sunday Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – We have reached an im­passe in the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions. The talks have stalled, at­ti­tudes in Par­lia­ment are hard­en­ing – and, every day, the risk of no deal rises. No politi­cians, at least ones who worry about jobs and liveli­hoods, want out of the EU next March on bare­bones WTO terms. We need to find an­other way.

We come from dif­fer­ent sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, but both be­lieve our coun­try’s long-term in­ter­ests are best served by leav­ing the EU. We also agree that a Canada-style deal should be our goal. We want a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship with the EU, with a free trade ar­range­ment that de­liv­ers pros­per­ity and lets us make our own laws, con­trol our borders and strike deals around the world.

But there are real prob­lems with the Canada op­tion. First, it isn’t ne­go­tiable with Europe at the mo­ment. Yes, they have said they are open to such a deal – even one with some plus, plus, pluses. But the price is that it must be for Britain only, with a border in the Ir­ish Sea. No Union­ist can ac­cept this.

Se­condly, even if we were able to ne­go­ti­ate a Canada-style deal for the whole of the UK, we would not get enough votes in the Com­mons. There is too much op­po­si­tion among our col­leagues. Of course, we dis­agree with them. But par­lia­men­tary maths is par­lia­men­tary maths, and we’ll be ex­haust­ing time and en­ergy in ne­go­ti­at­ing an ar­range­ment that would likely fall in West­min­ster.

Thirdly, de­spite the ev­i­dence, Michel Barnier has re­fused to ac­cept that tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions could deal with the Ir­ish land border. Like­wise, many of our par­lia­men­tary col­leagues think Canada equals trade fric­tion.

We are con­vinced that, in time, Canada can suc­ceed. But “Canada now” just does not work.

How­ever, there is an off-the-shelf op­tion which can pass through Par­lia­ment and pro­tect our Union. We still hope Theresa May gets her deal, but if the Gov­ern­ment does not ne­go­ti­ate one in time, it should go for “Nor­way for Now”. This would be a time-bounded so­lu­tion giv­ing space to achieve a Canada-style deal plus a free trade agree­ment. It would mean Britain ac­cess­ing tem­po­rar­ily the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area through mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Free Trade As­so­ci­a­tion sub­ject to the Efta court and a tem­po­rary cus­toms union. The Ir­ish land border would then look and feel ex­actly as it does to­day. Frank Field MP (Ind) An­drew Mur­ri­son MP (Con) Lon­don SW1

SIR – Af­ter the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, Ya­nis Varo­ufakis, the for­mer Greek fi­nance min­is­ter, warned our Gov­ern­ment that it is im­pos­si­ble to ne­go­ti­ate with the EU.

Af­ter two whole years of Theresa May’s at­tempts, which have only re­sulted in con­ces­sions from our side, one has to ask what part of Mr Varo­ufakis’s ad­vice she doesn’t un­der­stand. Dr Peter Grey

Hur­ley, Berk­shire

SIR – Theresa May’s idea of a Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod risks turn­ing Britain into a vas­sal state. To say that this is ut­terly un­ac­cept­able to vot­ers would be the un­der­state­ment of the cen­tury.

Never, over the past 60 years, has our coun­try had to tol­er­ate such an in­com­pe­tent prime min­is­ter. Other Cab­i­net min­is­ters have al­lowed Mrs May and her ca­bal of ad­vis­ers ef­fec­tively to shut them out of any de­bate. Are they spineless?

The time has come for Con­ser­va­tive MPs to find the back­bone to bring about Mrs May’s res­ig­na­tion and re­place­ment. David T Price

Ban­bury, Oxfordshire

SIR – If Mrs May is in­tent on black­mail­ing Con­ser­va­tives in Par­lia­ment to agree to any form of Brexit that falls short of a com­plete break with the EU, as de­manded in the ref­er­en­dum, then the party will de­serve to lose the next gen­eral elec­tion. John Pritchard

In­gate­stone, Es­sex

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