UK PM Convenes Cabinet – Agonizes Over State of Post-Brexit Trade

UK PM Convenes Cabinet – Agonizes Over State of Post-Brexit TradeCC BY 2.0 / muffinn / Brexit sailing apart – bon voyageEurope18:28 22.02.2018Get short URL
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Members of both the Conservative and Labour Parties desire a Hard Brexit, but their reasons for doing so differ wildly from each other.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has met with her Cabinet ministers at Chequers to hammer out the government’s definitive position on a post-Brexit relationship while having to deny claims that it is seeking an open-ended transition period between March 2019 and the final severing of institutional ties with Brussels.

According to British media reports, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is deeply opposed to a reported concession to the EU according to which Britain will not pursue trade deals according to which the UK would cut safety and environmental regulations, thereby undermining the relative attraction of Europe to its own prospective trading partners.

Opposing Views of Brexit

Mr. Fox along with his fellow Hard Brexiteers, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Member of Parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg have found themselves sharing the perception of antipathy for European Union institutions with the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The cause of the apparent commonality between the otherwise opposing extremes of British politics lies in what membership of the EU’s institutions currently bloc the UK from doing.

Barrier To “Free Trade” — Tories

The overriding objective of the Hard Brexiteers in the Government since the Leave result of the 2016, has been to quickly conclude independent free trade agreements as many other countries as possible outside of the European Union. On February 20 62 Tory MPs were revealed to have made such a demand to the Prime Minister in a co-signed letter.

Membership of the EU Customs Union currently means the UK is prohibited from negotiating independently with states outside of the bloc, as the 28 member states are required to negotiate internationally as if they were one country.

The Brexiteers of the Conservative Party have been most enthusiastic about securing agreements with the United States, suggesting Britain could join NAFTA, China, India and Britain’s former dependencies among the Gulf Cooperation Council.

READ MORE: Brexit, Beyond the Seas: Where the UK Will Forge Its Post-European Future

A Block on State-Aid — Labour

Jeremy Corbyn was attacked for what his fellow party-members considered to be his lukewarm support for the campaign to remain in the EU during the June 2016 membership referendum as well as his unwillingness to commit to keeping Britain inside the EU Customs Union and Single Market. The Labour leader has previously claimed in response to such criticisms from his own party that the strictures of the Single Market particularly, pose an obstacle to many of the declared policies of his putative future government.

READ MORE: Both UK Parties United Against Their Leaders

In particular, Corbyn has referred to the EU’s prohibiting of state aid to the steel industry which Labour has declared it would extend so as to support domestic employment. Fears have been raised particularly in Wales that what remains of the steel industry there could be wiped out under a future free trade agreement with China which Theresa May sought in her recent state visit to Beijing.

READ MORE: Fears UK-China Free Trade Could Wipe Out Welsh Steel

Mr. Corbyn had also pledged during the Remain campaign to push back on what he has called the EU’s drive for Britain privatize various domestic industries as a condition of membership.

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