REPORT: The UK is secretly considering a 10-year interim post-Brexit trade deal with the EU

Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Niall Carson PA Wire/PA Images

It’s no secret that Britain’s negotiations with the European Union over the terms of its departure are going to be unfathomably complex.

Some opposed to Brexit fear that the two-year window that the UK will have to negotiate these terms after Article 50 is triggered just won’t be long enough — and it sounds like the British government might be preparing for that eventuality as well.

According to a new report from Politico, the UK is secretly investigating the possibility of a “Plan B” with the EU: A ten-year interim deal while everything else is hashed out.

Such an agreement could keep trade tariffs between the EU and the UK at zero for a decade — providing some measure of stability while the rest of Britain’s Brexit terms are hashed out. Otherwise, the UK could see itself hit by automatic tariffs on a range of goods as it falls back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as a no-deal default.

Clearly, the protracted uncertainty an interim deal would cause would not be advisable — and the UK government will aim to secure a comprehensive deal within a two-year timeframe. But the report suggests that the UK is quietly taking seriously the possibility that one will not be achieved.

Prime Minister Theresa May — and other British politicians — has previously said that no deal would be better for Britain than leaving the EU with a bad deal. But such a “Plan B” would suggest they’re keen to avoid the “no deal” option if at all possible, even if it means years more of negotiations.

Politico reports that this kind of interim deal would be possible because a WTO clause allows a “reasonable amount of time” to agree upon a deal before automatic tariffs came into play.

May has said she intends to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, meaning Britain’s exit should theoretically be finalised by March 2019.

But if this “Plan B” is ultimately used, the Brexit debate may not be over until many years after that.

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3 Comments on "REPORT: The UK is secretly considering a 10-year interim post-Brexit trade deal with the EU"

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John Bailey

Two years is too long, never mind ten. Please, Prime Minister, let us leave quickly. Otherwise the damage to our Country and to our peoples will be enormous.

I don’t think we should be tied to the eu for another 2 years let alone any longer than that. All the time we are paying in they will survive of the back of Britain and to me this is not acceptable and will probably allow it to continue to muddle by and survive for a few years longer. If they survive it will have to be only on the funding of the remaining nations, not Britain. It is a dinosaur from the past and should be allowed to die as gracefully as it is possible with the likes of… Read more »
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