No-deal Brexit would wipe out trade deals with 70 coun­tries

Govern­ment pa­pers re­veal that ex­ist­ing agree­ments would go if UK crashes out of EU

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS West­min­ster Cor­re­spon­dent

A no-deal Brexit would cut the UK off from trade agree­ments with more than 70 coun­tries, the govern­ment has ad­mit­ted, amid mount­ing ten­sion within the Cab­i­net as ne­go­ti­a­tions with Brus­sels en­ter their fi­nal stages.

Trade with ma­jor economies in­clud­ing Ja­pan, Canada and South Korea could face new tar­iffs and bar­ri­ers if the UK fails to strike a Brexit agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est round of govern­ment pa­pers on prepa­ra­tions for a no-deal sce­nario.

The UK plans to “roll over” ex­ist­ing EU trade agree­ments by strik­ing new bi­lat­eral deals that are “iden­ti­cal or sub­stan­tially the same” and keep for­eign mar­kets open to Bri­tish goods.

How­ever, talks are so far only suf­fi­ciently ad­vanced on two ex­ist­ing agree­ments cov­er­ing south­ern and east­ern African states.

Pa­pers pub­lished yes­ter­day also re­veal a no-deal Brexit could trig­ger a new “cod war” with the EU as Euro­pean fish­ing boats would no longer have any right to fish in Bri­tish wa­ters and could face en­force­ment ac­tion from UK govern­ment ves­sels.

Bri­tish fish­er­men would in turn no longer be able to fish in Euro­pean wa­ters or land catches in EU ports. The lu­cra­tive trade in Scot­tish fish and shell­fish to Euro­pean con­sumers would be badly hit.

Eurostar train ser­vices through the Chan­nel Tun­nel could be dis­rupted with­out new agree­ments with Bel­gium and France, and elec­tric­ity prices could rise if the

UK was locked out of the com­mon mar­ket for en­ergy.

And Bri­tish hol­i­day­mak­ers in Europe could also lose ac­cess to their Net­flix and Spo­tify ac­counts un­der a nodeal Brexit be­cause EU “porta­bil­ity” rules that en­force con­ti­nent-wide ac­cess to stream­ing ser­vices would no longer ap­ply.

Brexit Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab said: “Se­cur­ing a good deal with our EU part­ners re­mains our top pri­or­ity.

“But, if the EU doesn’t match the am­bi­tion and prag­ma­tism we’ve showed, we have the plans in place to avoid, mit­i­gate or man­age the risk of no deal – and make a suc­cess of Brexit.” Around 40 EU free trade agree­ments ac­count­ing for 12 per cent of the UK’S to­tal trade “will cease to ap­ply to the UK when we leave the EU”, a doc­u­ment from the De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade con­firmed.

It was among 29 tech­ni­cal pa­pers re­leased in the fi­nal tranche of guid­ance on prepa­ra­tions for a no-deal Brexit, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of doc­u­ments to 104.

New pa­pers cover ar­eas rang­ing from the reg­u­la­tion of pes­ti­cides, trad­ing in elec­tric­ity, rail trans­port and con­sumer rights.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment con­sti­tu­tional re­la­tions sec­re­tary Michael Rus­sell called on the UK govern­ment to change course. “The re­al­ity of a dis­as­trous ‘no deal’ Brexit looms large in this lat­est guid­ance from the UK govern­ment,” Mr Rus­sell said.

“Po­ten­tially higher elec­tric­ity prices, dif­fi­cul­ties re­cruit­ing front­line staff for the NHS and other key sec­tors and dam­ag­ing dis­rup­tion to ex­ports will af­fect every­one in Scot­land, but will hit our ru­ral and coastal com­mu­ni­ties the hard­est.

“Scot­land did not vote for Brexit and so I call upon the UK govern­ment to im­me­di­ately change course to mit­i­gate against the worst im­pacts.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit sec­re­tary Sir Keir Starmer said: “The govern­ment’s nodeal plan­ning won’t re­as­sure any­one. Min­is­ters have barely scratched the sur­face of what would need to be done in the event of the UK crash­ing out of the EU with­out a deal.”

Sir Keir added: “The truth is the only rea­son the Tories are talk­ing about no deal is be­cause their civil war on Europe has put any chance of a good deal for Bri­tain at risk.”

With just days un­til a cru­cial EU sum­mit where lead­ers will at­tempt to sign off the UK’S “di­vorce” agree­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May tried to shore up sup­port for key com­pro­mises that risk col­laps­ing her govern­ment.

The Prime Min­is­ter would never agree to a Brexit deal that “traps” the UK per­ma­nently in a cus­toms union, Down­ing Street has said, fol­low­ing re­ports Mrs May was ready to con­cede that a “back­stop” plan for the Ir­ish bor­der can­not have a firm end date.

Spec­u­la­tion about pos­si­ble cab­i­net res­ig­na­tions is mount­ing fol­low­ing a meet­ing of the “in­ner Cab­i­net” on Thurs­day where min­is­ters were pre­sented with the out­line of a pos­si­ble deal with Brus­sels.

Mr Raab added to that spec­u­la­tion by in­sist­ing the back­stop to main­tain the sta­tus quo along the Ir­ish bor­der must be “time limited”.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner Guen­ther Oet­tinger said yes­ter­day “it does ap­pear pos­si­ble there will be a break­through” at Wed­nes­day’s sum­mit.

Cross-bor­der Eurostar train ser­vices could be dis­rupted

A no-deal Brexit could trig­ger a new ‘cod war’ as Euro­pean boats would no longer have any right to fish in Bri­tish wa­ters, nor Bri­tish boats to land catches in EU ports

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