February 15, 2017

Post-EU, the world is our oyster

Post-EU, the world is our oyster

The queue of countries offering us a trade deal shows how misguided the ‘Remain’ campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ really was. Free from the shackles of the EU, the world is our oyster, argues Matthew Ellery.

‘Pulling up the drawbridge’ was the metaphor used by ‘remainers’ throughout the EU Referendum campaign. They argued an independent United Kingdom would be isolated on the global stage. This claim was dubious at the time, and over the last seven months proven even more so.

Countries have been queuing up to initiate trade negotiations with the UK since the Brexit vote. They can see what Remainers cannot: the opportunities Brexit has thrown up. An opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in trade, signing trade deals with countries throughout the globe, and providing more jobs for the UK and our trading partners.

Since the election of US President Donald Trump, an Anglo-American trade deal has been the clearest signal of the opportunities available to our post-Brexit nation. Trump and Theresa May are both shouting from the rooftops about our ‘special relationship’ and a future trade deal. Anthony Scaramucci – an advisor to President Trump – has even suggested the deal could be agreed within 12 months. 

The Commonwealth also seems very keen to negotiate deals with Britain. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka are all expressing their intentions.

Britain’s historic partner Australia has been particularly optimistic. Australia’s High Commissioner, Alexander Downer, claims it is possible for the UK and Australia to agree a deal soon after Britain leaves the EU. Perhaps more strikingly, the former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has made a passionate case for a comprehensive trade deal in his foreword to a recent report by the Free Enterprise Group.

Australia’s close neighbour, New Zealand, has already made representations via its Prime Minster, Bill English, when he visited the UK and made his intentions clear. Following a meeting with Theresa May he spoke of his wish to see a ‘high quality’ Free Trade Agreement which would be negotiated ‘as soon as possible’.

Another Commonwealth country, Canada, has been in touch. Canada’s Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, has recently spoken of the ‘affinity’ between the UK and Canada. He spoke about the importance of a trade deal, and was optimistic about negotiating one. 

South African trade minister Rob Davies is even calling for negotiations to begin as soon as possible. This will possibly draw the ire of Brussels, who claim EU law forbids UK trade negotiations with non-EU countries pre-Brexit. It is important to note however, this is heavily disputed. Many argue EU law simply forbids the implementation of any agreement, rather than the negotiation itself.

In 2015 former Chancellor, George Osborne famously hailed a ‘golden decade’ in UK-China relations. He was unable to fulfil his dreams, but an independent Britain might. In the Prime Minister’s recent Lancaster House speech, Theresa May said China had already expressed an intention to negotiate a trade deal. Something Osborne was prohibited from doing under EU rules.

South America’s Mercosur bloc consists of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Striking a free trade deal with Mercosur would give the UK preferential access to all of these markets. And positive noises are already coming from South American countries about a deal.

And other Latin American countries don’t want to be left out. Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos recently had a state visit to the UK with Theresa May. He argued for a more comprehensive trade deal between the UK and Colombia than the current EU-Colombia deal. Mexico has gone even further. Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s Finance Minister, has announced that Mexico has already drafted a UK trade deal to be ratified after the UK formally leaves the EU.

Omar Bahlaiwa, the Secretary General of the Saudi Committee for International Trade, has recently outlined the approach of the Gulf States in an article for City AM. He wrote ‘As Britain’s departure from the European Union draws closer, concern over the country’s economic prosperity is mounting. It shouldn’t. Britain has long-standing allies in the Gulf who will work hard to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement that benefits all.’

Closer to home Switzerland – a European country outside the EU – also wants a trade deal to become effective the moment Brexit occurs. Johann Schneider-Ammann, Switzerland’s Economy Minister, said ‘my objective is clear. Not one day should pass after Britain’s exit (from the EU) without new regulations in place. 

Let’s not forget the EU either. We are of course leaving the EU, but this does not mean we will stop trading with its Member States. The Government’s position is now clear; it wants access to the Single Market through a free trade deal, but not membership of it. Having access allows the UK to have control over its laws, borders and money – membership does not. 

And it doesn’t end there. Many other countries around the world, such as Chile, Iceland, Norway, Peru and Thailand, to name just a few, have also expressed intentions to sign free trade deals with the UK. Three countries – Israel, Turkey and South Korea – have already set up trade taskforces to start negotiating. So, it looks as if there will be few countries not willing to strike trade deals with Brexit Britain.

None of this can be achieved however, until we Get Britain Out of both the EU and its Customs Union. While we are still members of the EU, it has the exclusive right to negotiate trade deals. Therefore, the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March will be the beginning of a ‘Global Britain’ – the world is our oyster.

4.24 avg. rating (84% score) - 21 votes
Matthew Ellery
Matthew Ellery
Matthew Ellery is a Research Executive at Eurosceptic campaign group Get Britain Out. He joined the campaign in early 2016 after training as a barrister at Cardiff University.
  • Scorpio

    Hello Gordon. If Theresa May serves Article 50 notice this month, how many nations do you think we will have trade agreements with on 1st April 2020? Right now we have them with 27 EU countries plus another 50+ outside (via EU agreements). Even our acceptance into WTO tariff arrangements is not yet agreed, and requires deconstructing “our” part of EU-WTO quotas, and WTO agreements rarely encompass services, which is our major export commodity. So to whom do you think we will be selling all these products and services in April 2020? Or will we just be stockpiling until we get our first trade agreement in – what? – 2022? Businesses need lead-in time to plan – two or three years for complex products such as vehicles or aerospace. Thank you for the advice about travelling – yes, I do travel, both inside and outside the EU. Another advantage of EU membership!

  • Gordon Smith

    More Remainer claptrap. Do you people never give up?
    I suggest a job with the BBC. Lots of like-minded people there.
    The EU is a dying 1950s museum that has only evil intent toward us as we break free. Of all the nations and political constructs in the world I would sooner negotiate with any in preference to the strutting peecocks of this would-be empire. In fact we will easily trade with dozens of nations as an independent world-class centre of finance.
    It is you who are desperate and not the UK. If you love the EU so much you should take advantage of free movement while you can, and leave.

  • John B

    This is spoof piece of course lol, it’s very funny.

  • Andy Waters

    How deluded is that???

  • Scorpio

    Which surely shows that the UK can grow its non-EU trade whilst still inside the EU. There is nothing in the EU that prevents us trading with third countries. The EU has trade agreements with 50+, and pending negotiations with others we can trade on WTO basis (which is, of course, far less satisfactory. I wouldn’t for a moment deny that in the long term trade with non-EU countries will become more important. However, that remains available to us inside the EU. My primary concern is the period 2020 – 2030 when trade drops of a cliff and may take a decade to recover. There are, of course, many non-trade reasons to stay within the EU, such as freedom to travel work and live overseas, European political cohesion in the face of a threatening Russia and an unpredictable United States, and ability to form coherent policy to deal with environmental and social protection thus avoiding a race to the bottom in terms of standards.

  • captainslugwash

    44% and declining. It was about 55% in 2000.
    The European Commission itself states that “over the next ten to 15 years, 90% of world demand will be generated outside Europe”.

    Static population, declining trade, and high fees. Who wants to be shackled to that?

  • Scorpio

    About 45% of our exports go to the EU. About 10% of the EU’s come to the UK. Who do you feel needs whom the more? No-one is suggesting that trade will stop completely, but nonetheless a significant drop in trade – as would happen if mutual free access were removed – would be significant. Even if your figure is correct (and I simply don’t know) the loss of (say) a couple of million jobs in a EU population of about 450 million would be inconvenient, but not a disaster. An equivalent number of jobs lost in the UK would be a pretty heavy blow in a population of 65 million, don’t you think?

  • Scorpio

    Thank you for the apology. However, my comment is realism, not groaning. Blind optimism is not a sound financial strategy for a major economy.

  • ratcatcher11

    There are 6 million EU jobs that depend on exports to Britain, so a trade deal will be easy.

  • ratcatcher11

    You are trotting out the same old tired mantra that remainers have used to put a fog over the Brexit deals. The UK does not have low productivity, it has very high productivity it is the measurement that is wrong and so are you on all counts.

  • brownowl

    Your intent as stated above, which I clearly misinterpreted, and for which I apologise, is not at all clear. It came over as one of the most pessimistic Remoaner groans I’ve seen for a while. It’s not name-calling, IMO, it’s a fair reflection of the content of your comment, but if I read it wrong, I’m sorry.

  • Scorpio

    I was talking about our chance of negotiating a trade deal with the EU in two years – same problem, 27 countries (and, yes, Wallonia).
    “Remoaner”? One comment and we’re down to name-calling already.

  • brownowl

    “Everyone” doesn’t acknowledge that WTO would be “disastrous”. I recommend you research “Most Favoured Nation”. Some learned commentators are saying that WTO rules would be, even in a worst case scenario, cheaper than our current membership fee of the EU.

    Also you say: “The EU-Canada deal took five years, so go figure”. There’s a simple explanation; the number 27. The number of nations required to agree unanimously, on the terms of the deal. Do you remember how it nearly foundered at the last minute? Wallonia, a tiny province in Belgium, didn’t like it.

    When we go to make trade deals, there will be only 2 countries involved, and there will be a unanimous desire for it to succeed.

    Please, put your Remoaner scepticism in perspective.

  • Major_Eyeswater

    Derek I think your first point is incorrect – here’s our manufacturing output back to 1990 in constant 2013 £. Select the “trend” overlay, you’ll see a positive trend over 27 years:-


  • Scorpio

    Everyone everywhere wants a trade deal – in principle. The problems come when the negotiations start and it turns out that the parties want different things, or one party wants concessions that the other cannot give. That’s why trade deals take years. We presently have completely free trade with 27 nations inside the EU (which accounts for about 45% of our current exports) plus, via EU-negotiated agreements, trade deals with another 50+ countries. In March 2019 (assuming Article 50 is served next month as intended) all that stops unless somehow, within two years, we negotiate a new deal with the EU. The EU-Canada deal took five years, so go figure. Even if we DO get a deal with the EU in that time, we lose the deal with the 50+ non-EU countries. You think that we are going to get trade deals in place with the US, Australia, Canada etc within that time frame? I mean sensible deals? Everyone will know that the UK is desperate, and Trump in particular would offer very tough terms because that’s his nature. Potential end result of this? In April 2019 we have no trade deals with anyone, and we fall back (if we are lucky, because this part is not certain either) on WTO rules, which everyone acknowledges would be disastrous. So, think on this, and write some serious analysis about the situation, rather than silly little puff pieces full of mindless optimism like the one above.

  • Derek

    We do not make much to sell overseas. Manufacturing has been decreasing for decades but services have been expanding. We have a large trade deficit so most of these countries will be looking to export to the UK

    The UK has low productivity which is related to its low investment and has low skill levels. UK school leavers ‘the worst in Europe for essential skills’, report says http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11704551/UK-school-leavers-the-worst-in-Europe-for-essential-skills-report-says.html

    see UK Skill Levels and International Competitiveness 2014 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470017/skill_levels_2014.pdf

  • Andy

    If the EU is anything it is a Customs Union, highly protectionist and self absorbed.

  • getahead

    The EU was always too much about politics and regulation and not enough trade.
    Too much Coudenhove Kalergi perhaps.

  • MrVeryAngry

    Wrong. The world will be our ‘lobster’.

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