Overly Complex Brexit Negotiations

The various issues in our present relationship with the EU have been deliberately conflated by some commentators to make the future negotiation look horrendously complicated (Letters to the Daily Telegraph, Saturday 22nd October).

Two issues predominate: the future rights of EU nationals to settle and seek work in the UK, and future trade relations between Britain and the EU countries. No trade agreement anywhere connects these two issues, and all other EU-UK issues are completely secondary.

For the first issue we should say now that this is not a negotiating matter. We intend to be a fully sovereign country once more.  EU nationals will have the same freedom to come to Britain, as visitors, as do Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, US and Japanese citizens under the current visa–waiver system. But for work, EU nationals will, like them, need to obtain a work permit.

For the trade issue, we need to state that our aim is not to disturb the present tariff-free trade in goods and will not impose tariffs on EU goods if they don’t impose them on ours.

The only real issue for the British government is whether or not to continue with the present EU tariffs applied to non-EU industrial goods imported into Britain (on average about 3%).  Accepting this would avoid negotiating a separate agreement for each product exported from Britain to the EU which might have some non-British content. British exporters would be very relieved to avoid this.

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