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Brexit round-up – 07/02/20

Welcome to this, our latest Brexit round-up. Each week we provide a succinct round-up of the latest news surrounding the Brexit process, so you can keep abreast of the issues which are likely to affect your organisation.

Boris Johnson sets out trade deal vision

Boris Johnson has said that he wants a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU and that the UK would return to the Withdrawal Agreement, and revert to World Trade Organisation terms, if such a deal was not reached.  Under the EU-Canada deal, import tariffs on most goods have been eliminated, though there are still customs and VAT checks however the flow of services, such as banking between Canada and the EU are much more restricted.  Mr Johnson said “We have made our choice – we want a free trade agreement, similar to Canada’s but in the very unlikely event that we do not succeed, then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.  The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no deal’. The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s. In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper mightily.”  In contrast, Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the EU was ready to offer a “highly ambitious trade deal as the central pillar of this partnership”, which included zero tariffs and zero quotas but, he said, this was dependent on the UK agreeing to “specific and effective guarantees to ensure a level playing field” so competition “is and remains open and fair.”

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Agreeing to EU regulations would “defeat the point of Brexit” says Raab

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has said that Britain will “not be aligning with EU rules” in any post-Brexit trade deal as to do so would “defeat the point of Brexit.”  He said the UK would enter trade talks “with a spirit of goodwill” but added “the legislative alignment – it just ain’t happening.”  Irish PM Leo Varadkar said the UK needed to commit to a level playing field to get a free trade deal which could include a deal such as that which the EU and Canada has but he said “one thing we feel very strongly in the EU is that if we are going to have tariff-free, quota-free trade with the UK, which is essentially what we have with Canada on almost everything, then that needs to come with a level playing field.”

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If you have any questions about any of the issues which are raised, or would like to discuss your own organisation’s options during the Brexit process, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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