Skip to content

Tag: News

Theresa May Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Can Theresa May Be Forced to Hold a Second Brexit Referendum? (Bloomberg)

Theresa May Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

By Kitty Donaldson , Alex Morales , and Robert Hutton
October 18, 2018, 7:26 PM GMT+3

  • Conservative, Labour lawmakers discuss voting down Brexit deal
  • Defeat in Parliament is high-risk gamble to force another vote

There are those in the Conservative Party so against Brexit that they are willing to gang up with the opposition to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal in order to secure a second referendum.

How many are willing to see this scenario through is hard to quantify — there is yet no deal — but the fact that lawmakers are discussing it semi-openly is a sign of how worried the prime minister should be.

The Path to a Second Referendum

Lawmakers who want a second referendum on Brexit see three opportunities to make amendments allow a fresh public vote:

  1. Amend Theresa May’s motion seeking approval of whatever deal she secures — expected in December at the latest.
  2. If May is unable to strike a deal or if Parliament rejects the plan she’s brought back from Brussels, she must make a statement by Jan. 21 on how she plans to proceed. In theory, a motion on that statement will be “in neutral terms,’’ meaning it can’t be changed. In practice, backbenchers believe the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will allow it to be amended.
  3. If May’s deal is approved, she must pass the Brexit “Implementation Bill.” Lawmakers could amend this too.

“The idea of making support for the prime minister’s deal dependent on a people’s vote is one of a number of ideas being discussed at the moment,’’ opposition Labour lawmaker Ben Bradshaw said in an interview. “Support for a people’s vote is rising particularly among undeclared Tories – even those with leave constituencies.’’

Continued on




May’s carefully crafted Brexit fudge on a collision course with Westminster (The Times)

Oliver Wright, October 18 2018, 5:00pm, The Times

The trouble with summits is that no matter how much you plan they have a tendency to throw up unintended consequences.

So it was in Salzburg and so it is in Brussels.

Briefings yesterday evening by EU officials revealed that Theresa May had told other leaders during her 15-minute address that she was prepared to consider extending the 21-month transition period to break the impasse over the Irish border.

Downing Street had spent the day desperately trying not to address the issue, knowing that it would be political dynamite at home.

Once the other side had let the cat out of the bag, however, they had no choice but to engage and the revelation has set off a firestorm in London.

Nick Boles, a former skills minister, said that Conservatives were “close to despair” and feared that Mrs May was conspiring with the EU to force MPs to accept a “humiliating” compromise to avoid a chaotic Brexit.

The backbench Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries called for David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, to take over as caretaker leader.

Despite the hysteria, all is not quite as it seems. That doesn’t mean that it is good news for the prime minister, merely that her problems are not quite as caricatured.

Under the complicated deal being cobbled together between British and European negotiators to get around the backstop issue a consensus is forming on a legal and political deal that will allow all sides to claim partial victory.

Continued on



Brexit Talks Put on Hold as Stalemate Deepens (Bloomberg)

By Ian Wishart , Nikos Chrysoloras , and Tim Ross
October 14, 2018, 8:14 PM GMT+2 Updated on October 15, 2018, 7:56 AM GMT+2

  • Raab-Barnier meeting ended after an hour in Brussels
  • There is now the risk of a no-deal summit in November

The U.K. and the European Union are on course to miss this week’s key milestone on the road to a Brexit deal after talks broke up in stalemate on Sunday, people familiar with the matter said.

A weekend of intense negotiations — including a surprise dash by Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to meet his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels — failed to break the deadlock.

There will be no further attempt to resolve the impasse before EU leaders gather in the Belgian capital on Wednesday for the summit they’d hoped to use to finalize the divorce.

Officials on both sides have now all-but given up on a breakthrough this week, and are increasingly concerned that time is running out to get an agreement before the U.K.’s exit in March, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

“Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open,” Barnier said on Twitter after his hour-long meeting with Raab. For his part, the Brexit secretary left Brussels and traveled back to London without making any comment.

Hopes Dashed

The weekend was meant to be a chance to crack the thorniest issue in talks — what to do with the Irish border — so that leaders meeting for a summit on Wednesday could declare progress and signal that a final deal could be signed in mid-November.

That timetable — which markets have started to price in — has been thrown off and there’s likely to be more talk of how to prepare for a chaotic and acrimonious no-deal split. The pound fell early on Monday.

A key meeting of EU governments scheduled for Monday was canceled and negotiations will likely to be paused for some time, according to EU diplomats.

The major sticking point remains how to avoid the need for a hard customs border at the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. One proposal is to keep the U.K. inside the EU’s customs union on a temporary basis, which would mean no new checks on goods passing from Northern Ireland to Ireland would be needed.

Continued on



Brexit deal on Irish border is in sight, says EU (The Times)

Britain would stay in an EU-wide customs regime until the technology exists to ensure no hard border in Ireland

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor
October 5 2018, 12:00pm

North would diverge and follow single market regulations

European Union Brexit negotiators have told national diplomats in Brussels that a deal to solve the Irish border issue is now “very close”.

After talks yesterday between Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, sources in the commission told Reuters that both sides were closing in on an agreement.

The basis of a deal was understood to centre around proposals, revealed by The Times on Tuesday, that are due to be formally tabled by the British side imminently. Under the plan the whole of the UK would remain within an EU-wide single customs regime until the technology exists to ensure no hard border in Ireland.

Northern Ireland would diverge from Britain and follow single market regulations that cover the sale of goods crossing the border. The government is insisting that this would have to be agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, if and when it is reinstated.

Sterling rose to a ten-week high of 88.19 pence against the euro on news of the deal being close. The pound also hit a five-day high against the US dollar of $1.3053.

Continued on


Boris Johnson. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Boris Johnson urges Theresa May to scrap Chequers plan (The Guardian)

Ex-foreign secretary outlines his Brexit vision ahead of the Tory party conference

Boris Johnson has urged the prime minister to abandon her Chequers plan and “change the course of the negotiation” on Brexit, in a 4,000-word intervention aiming to recapture the narrative before the Conservative party conference.

The piece sought to put to bed criticisms that Brexiters such as Johnson who oppose Theresa May’s plans for a common UK-EU rulebook on goods have no alternative of their own. “The single greatest failing has been the government’s appalling and inexplicable delay in setting out a vision for what Brexit is,” he said.

The former foreign secretary, who conceded that his alternative approach might need an extension of a transition period beyond 2020, accused May of a “pretty invertebrate performance”.

“There has been a collective failure of government, and a collapse of will by the British establishment, to deliver on the mandate of the people,” he wrote in an article for the Telegraph.

Johnson said it was “widely accepted that the UK is now in a weak position in the Brexit negotiations”, a tacit criticism of the prime minister’s negotiating approach, which he said had been defined by a “basic nervousness” and a “lack of conviction”. He said May’s premiership had been “in the grip of a fatal uncertainty about whether or not to leave the customs union”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg echoed Johnson’s criticisms, likening the Chequers plan to Count Dracula in that it “doesn’t have much life in the sunlight”. The chairman of the Eurosceptic European Research Group told BBC One’s Question Time: “I think the negotiations have been badly conducted, I think we have let the European Union make the running in negotiations, we agreed to their establishment of the terms of negotiations and the timetable of the negotiations.

Johnson’s article did not challenge May’s leadership directly, but was likely to fuel speculation that Johnson may move against the prime minister before the negotiations have been concluded.

Continued on


Hyundai Kona, Credit: H.B. Kang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lessons from South Korea: What would a hard Brexit mean for British manufacturers? (LSE Brexit blog)

Hyundai Kona, Credit: H.B. Kang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The UK government has proposed maintaining a ‘common rulebook’ with the European Union following Brexit, which would in principle prevent non-tariff trade barriers from developing. But if this proposal fails and the UK leaves without a deal, how would British manufacturers be affected? Robert Basedow draws lessons from the South Korean car industry, noting that manufacturers based outside of major regulatory regimes are not necessarily doomed to failure, but do face the extra costs of complying with different regulatory frameworks.

The highly controversial ‘Chequers Agreement’ of 6 July foresees that the United Kingdom maintains by and large free access to the European Union’s single market for goods after the end of the transition period in 2020 by adhering to a ‘common rulebook’. This common rulebook would encompass common technical standards relating to issues such as product compatibility and quality as well as regulations relating to consumer and environmental protection. Such ‘regulatory alignment’ is supposed to keep so-called non-tariff trade barriers between the United Kingdom and the EU low. In the absence for instance of common safety standards for electronic goods, the EU or the United Kingdom’s customs authorities may refuse the import of certain goods due to concerns over consumer safety. Common rules can avoid such barriers.

Many critics – and most notably former Brexit Minister David Davis and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – warn that the May government is about to trade off British democracy and sovereignty and turn the United Kingdom into a colony of the European Union. They argue that the ‘common rulebook’ would make the British vassals of Brussels. Such concerns seem overstated. It is debatable whether the elaboration of for instance highly technical product compatibility or consumer safety rules form part of the core of national sovereignty and democracy in modern statehood.

State authorities often leave it to private sectorial associations at the national and international level to develop relevant soft law. Where states remain in the lead, rule-setting is typically delegated from parliaments to independent, non-elected and highly specialised regulators and technocrats. What is more, countries like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland adhere to more comprehensive ‘common rulebooks’ than foreseen in the Chequers Agreement and few people would suggest that these countries have turned into authoritarian colonies. The claim that a ‘common rulebook’ would undermine British sovereignty and democracy seems at best slightly exaggerated.

Nonetheless, it remains unclear whether the May government will succeed in seeing off opposition in her own party and agreeing with the EU on a common rulebook and more generally the course of action laid out in the Chequers Agreement. Due to the persistent uncertainty over regulatory alignment, it is illuminating to assess what would happen to British manufacturers in the absence of a ‘common rulebook’.

Lessons from South Korea

One case study from which the UK could draw lessons is the experience of the South Korean car industry. South Korea and its car industry are in many regards comparable to the United Kingdom and its car industry. From a global perspective, the United Kingdom and South Korea qualify as small, open, high-income economies. Both boast important car industries, which are too big for their respective home markets and thus rely on international markets.

A key difference between the United Kingdom and South Korea is that South Korea is not geographically part of one of the two dominant global regulatory regimes for cars – the US American and the European UNECE regime. South Korea’s intermediary position between the two regimes is problematic. Some European and American rules are incompatible. If a car is built to comply with US rules, it violates European rules and vice-versa. So how do South Korean car manufacturers and suppliers operate and compete in this position?

Continued on


Hyundai Kona, Credit: H.B. Kang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Hyundai Kona, Credit: H.B. Kang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The view of the Republic of Ireland from a bridge over the Dublin to Belfast motorway CRISPIN RODWELL FOR THE TIMES

Brexit and the Irish border (The Times)

The view of the Republic of Ireland from a bridge over the Dublin to Belfast motorway

The Times, April 6 2018

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the biggest obstacles to a Brexit deal. Reporting from Ireland and six other European countries, Raphael Hogarth, Adam Sage, Hannah Lucinda Smith and Ryan Watts investigate possible solutions.

the Irish government have said that Britain has until June to come up with a workable plan to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Without a “legally operable” proposal, Brussels has warned, the entire deal could be in doubt.

Theresa May promised in December that the UK would avoid “any physical infrastructure or related checks” at the Irish border. Yet it is still not clear how the government can square this with its pledge to take the UK out of the single market and the customs union, which the EU says will inevitably lead to frictions in trade.

The cabinet is divided down the middle. Some ministers favour an innovative “customs partnership” with the EU, under which goods are electronically tracked to their destination in order to determine which businesses need to pay which duties.

Others prefer the “maximum facilitation” option, which would use advanced customs technology from around the world to minimise checks. Both have been attacked as unworkable by the EU.

The Democratic Unionist Party, on which the prime minister depends for her majority in parliament, remains fiercely opposed to any deal that would subject Northern Ireland to different rules from Great Britain.

So what will the Irish border look like after Brexit? The Times investigates how Irish communities along the border live now, how other countries manage their borders with the EU and what a new regime could mean for the peace process.

Table comparing checks and applicable regulations at various European borders
Table comparing checks and applicable regulations at various European borders


Continued on


Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove AFP

Theresa May losing cabinet support for no-deal Brexit if EU talks fail (The Times)

Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are said to favour a Canada-style deal. AFP.

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
September 27 2018

Theresa May is losing cabinet support for her plan to revert to a no-deal Brexit if Europe rejects the Chequers proposals, sources have told The Times.

Senior ministers are increasingly worried that the prime minister will stick to her promise to force a no-deal Brexit if Europe rejects her plan again next month. Mrs May said on Tuesday: “I’ve always said no deal is better than a bad deal, and I think a bad deal, for example, would be something that broke up the United Kingdom.”

Cabinet ministers are said to be looking at how to prevent Mrs May from locking Britain into a no-deal Brexit. Sources say that those opposed to her strategy include Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary.

They want her to consider a Canada-style free-trade deal if the EU rejects her proposals again at a summit on October 18, giving her a Plan B to avoid a no-deal. Their private concerns come after they backed Mrs May’s negotiating position at a recent cabinet meeting.

“We don’t want a no-deal and lots of people think her tactic means we can get there by accident,” one source said. “We think that a Canada deal is better than no deal.”

The group is not thought, however, to have presented any clear solution to the issue of the Northern Ireland border. Mrs May said this week that a Canada-type agreement that would, in effect, leave Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union, was not an option. This key group of cabinet “swing voters” insist that they will remain loyal and back Mrs May’s Chequers plan through the conference season.

Continued on




The Economists for Brexit predictions are inconsistent with the basic facts of international trade (LSE Brexit blog)

There is a degree of consensus among economists that a Brexit will make us worse off. The exception is recent work by Economists for Brexit. Their forecast of income gains from Brexit contrasts with all other economic analysis, explain Thomas Sampson, Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano and John Van Reenen.

The possibility of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) has generated an unusual degree of consensus among economists. Acrimony and rancour surrounded debates around austerity and joining the euro, but analysis from the Bank of England to the OECD to academia has all concluded that Brexit would make us economically worse off. The disagreement is mainly over the degree of impoverishment (for example, Dhingra et al, 2016a; OECD, 2016; HM Treasury, 2016; PWC, 2016; NIESR, 2016).

Perhaps the one exception is the recent and much-publicised work of ‘Economists for Brexit’ (2016). Since any coherent economic case for leaving the EU was been largely ‘missing in action’, it is refreshing to get some clarity over the Leave campaign’s vision of the UK’s post-Brexit economic arrangements.

The only modelling details provided by Economists for Brexit come from Professor Patrick Minford of Cardiff University (Minford, 2015; 2016; Minford et al, 2016). He argues that Brexit will raise the UK’s welfare by 4 per cent as a result of increased trade. So where exactly does he get his numbers from and why are they so different?

The ‘Britain Alone’ Policy: A hard political sell?

Minford’s policy recommendation is that following a vote for Brexit, the UK should not bother striking new trade deals but instead unilaterally abolish all its import tariffs (let’s call this policy ‘Britain Alone’). The UK would simply pay the tariffs imposed by other countries on UK exports. This is usually the worst-case scenario that other economists have examined.

This would be a pretty hard sell to UK citizens. Minford admits his model predicts that the policy would cause the ‘elimination’ of UK manufacturing and a large increase in wage inequality. But although he is relaxed about these outcomes, we suspect that voters in Port Talbot and elsewhere in Britain wouldn’t be so impressed.

Indeed, we know of no cases where an industrialised country has ever implemented full unilateral liberalisation – and for good reason. Persuading other countries to reduce their trade barriers is easier if you can also say you’re going to reduce your own as part of the deal. If we’re committed to go naked into the world economy, other countries are unlikely to follow suit voluntarily.

But putting political reality aside, standard economics does suggest some benefits from ‘unilateral trade disarmament’. For example, in our work back in March (Dhingra et al, 2016a, Table 2) we also look at what would happen if the UK eliminated all tariffs after Brexit. Looking solely at the short-run static effects, we find that if the UK trades under World Trade Organisation rules following Brexit, but maintains import tariffs, income per person falls by 2.6 per cent. Under the ‘Britain Alone’ scenario of unilateral liberalisation after Brexit, UK real incomes still fall by 2.3 per cent. In other words, there is a gain of only 0.3 percentage points from eliminating tariffs compared to just trading under WTO rules and the British people are still considerably worse off as a result of Brexit. The mystery is why Minford can generate effects thirteen times are large.

Continued on


Photo: hehaden via a CC-BY-NC 2.0 licence

What if Britain rejoined the EU? Breaking up may be less hard than making up (LSE Brexit blog)

By Iain Begg, a Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute and Co-Director of the Dahrendorf Forum, London School of Economics and Political Science.

If Britain ever sought to rejoin the EU, it could not be on the terms of membership we previously enjoyed, warns Iain Begg (LSE). The UK’s budget rebate, exemption from Schengen and opt-outs from the euro and judicial cooperation will not be on the table again. This would make rejoining a difficult sell to the British public.

A curiosity of the Brexit saga has been the steadfast belief in the sanctity of the referendum result. Despite the ambiguous constitutional status of referenda in the UK and the narrowness of the vote, the main political parties fall over each other to “respect the verdict of the people”. Individual Members of Parliament are too worried about upsetting their constituents to insist that the principle of representative democracy should give them the final say.

Many Remainers cling to the hope that it will all prove to be disastrous, the country will return to its senses, and seek to rejoin the EU sooner rather than later. However, one dimension of this scenario has received surprisingly little attention: the terms of membership the UK currently has are very unlikely to be on offer in future.

First, the opt-out from the euro will be no longer apply, with the best the UK can hope for being to emulate Sweden – legally “in derogation” of its obligation to accede, rather than having an opt-out as the UK and Denmark do – by making no effort to join. In practice, this could be enough to enable the UK to retain the pound indefinitely, but if (and it is far from implausible) other countries accede to the euro following Brexit, leaving only one or two Member States outside, the position would be harder to sustain.

Moreover, the euro will not stand still. The Germans and the French struggle to agree on what the priorities are for strengthening the governance of the Eurozone, but it is the sequencing of the various reforms more than what needs ultimately to be done that is at issue.

Within a few years, a closer banking union (which the UK has not been part of) will be in place. Bank supervision has already been assigned to the European Central Bank for the largest Eurozone banks, and there is now a common bank resolution procedure. The next phase will very probably include some form of common deposit insurance and the establishment of a European Monetary Fund.

Eurozone deepening will also include additional budgetary capacities aimed at macroeconomic stabilisation – meaning automatic cross-border fiscal transfers – and the possibility of a common bond equivalent to the US Treasury Bond. Although resistance from creditor states has stalled these developments and is likely to mean only small funds in the first instance, the direction of travel is set. Ironically, it is a direction British ministers regularly advocated during the years of the euro crisis.

Continued on


Photo: hehaden via a CC-BY-NC 2.0 licence
Photo: hehaden via a CC-BY-NC 2.0 licence
Drapeau britannique

There is little sign of the banking industry exodus many critics had feared (The Times)

Katherine Griffiths

September 26 2018, 12:01am, The Times

There may be all-out war among MPs over a possible second referendum on Brexit and whether to tear up Theresa May’s Chequers plan, but ministers should feel quite comforted about one outcome. Banks have begun to move staff to the Continent to prepare for life after Britain leaves the European Union, but at this stage the numbers are lower than anyone thought likely and — crucially — many of those employees are going on short-term contracts.

According to Iain McCluskey, a partner at PWC, the movers fall into three categories: those going to a new permanent contract, usually for roles required by the local regulator to be carried out by someone fully accountable under its laws; commuters, that is people who will fly out on a Monday and back to London on a Thursday or Friday, while their families remain in the UK; and finally “secondees”, bankers agreeing to move for two years (and in some cases as little as one) with the strong probability that they can come back to a good job in London. As Mr McCluskey notes, the smallest group is the first one, the permanent movers.

Admittedly, those numbers will get bigger. Rumours suggest that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is planning to shift more jobs to Paris than it had earmarked originally, while Jamie Dimon, the boss of JP Morgan Chase, has said repeatedly that the bank may shift 4,000 of its 16,000 British roles inside the EU if the eventual Brexit deal is poor.

Yet the fact is that the number of banking employees prepared to move permanently to Frankfurt, Luxembourg or even Paris is small, made up either of people from those countries who wanted to be in London for only a while anyway, or younger employees without the complications of family members with their own jobs or children at school.

Most continue to believe that if you want to have a career in banking in Europe, the place to be is London. So some will go to another city for a while, but they want to come back to the City or Canary Wharf, despite its lack of obvious charms, because they think that is where the best chances of career advancement and good jobs will be in future.

Continued on



Theresa May Photographer: Will Oliver/Pool via Bloomberg

Defiant Theresa May Won’t Call Early Election or Cave to Tory Brexiteers (Bloomberg)

Theresa May Photographer: Will Oliver/Pool via Bloomberg

By Robert Hutton
September 25, 2018, 9:40 PM GMT+3

Theresa May ruled out a return to the ballot box to settle the U.K.’s political stalemate over Brexit and hunkered down on her plans for leaving the European Union.

“It would not be in the national interest to have an election” before the scheduled Brexit date in March 2019, the prime minister told reporters Tuesday en route to New York. She called a snap election in June 2017 — evoking Brexit — in a political miscalculation that wiped out her Conservative majority.

Continued on


Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Labour conference: Members vote to keep Remain vote option (BBC)

Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, speaking at the Labour Conference.

25 September 2018

Labour delegates have approved a motion that would keep all options – including a fresh referendum – on the table if MPs are deadlocked over Brexit.

It was passed by a show of hands at the party conference in Liverpool.
The vast majority were in favour of the motion, with only a small number against.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn – who has previously ruled out another EU referendum – has said he will respect the result of the vote.
Sir Keir Starmer said earlier that the option of staying in the EU would be on the ballot paper in any future referendum if Labour gets its way.
In his party conference speech, the shadow Brexit secretary said all options should be kept on the table, including a so-called People’s Vote, to “stop a destructive Tory Brexit”.
But a senior Unite official said another vote would “reopen the wounds of Brexit” not heal them.
Labour’s policy had been to force an election if MPs are deadlocked over Brexit but members succeeded in getting a debate on getting a fresh referendum on to the agenda at the conference.

Sir Keir told Labour activists if a general election was not possible “then other options must be kept open”.
“That includes campaigning for a public vote,” he said.
“It is right for Parliament to have the first say but if we need to break the impasse, our options must include campaigning for a public vote and nobody is ruling out Remain as an option.”

Continued on



IEA: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK. Check-out the document.

On 24th July 2018, the Institute of Economic Affairs published a framework for Brexit.

The report was backed by both David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, and Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary. It calls for the government to drop the proposal made at Chequers to maintain close regulatory alignment with the EU and instead sign a more limited trade deal with the bloc.

Click on the links below to access the document:

Theresa May and Boris Johnson LEON NEAL/REUTERS

New threat to Chequers plan as Brexiteers push ‘Canada’ deal (The Times)

Leading Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson have backed an alternative to Theresa May’s proposal

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor
September 25 2018, 12:01am

A Canada-style trade deal would enable Britain to dump “anti-competitive” European Union laws and embrace the “opportunities” of Brexit, senior Conservatives said yesterday.

Setting out an alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers plan, leading Brexiteers backed a report that called for the EU to have no say over British laws on the environment, food standards and workers’ rights. They instead called for Britain to strike free-trade deals with countries such as the United States by opening up its markets to exports currently banned by the EU.

The report, by the free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), was given the backing of both David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, and Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary.

It calls for the government to drop the proposal made at Chequers to maintain close regulatory alignment with the EU and instead sign a more limited trade deal with the bloc.

Such a deal would be similar to the Canada trade deal concluded last year and would enable Britain to escape EU rules on environmental, social, data and food safety legislation.

Brussels has claimed that without agreeing to abide by such rules, British access to EU markets would be severely restricted. The report says that new deals with countries such as America, India and parts of Asia could offset any losses. It also argues that if Britain began trade talks with the EU while concurrently negotiating with other countries it could leverage one side against the other.

Continued on