Govt Minister: We Don’t Need a Trade Deal with the EU

Pro-Brexit activists hold placards reading 'I love WTO' as they demonstrate outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London on February 14, 2019. - Prime Minister Theresa May risks another humiliating Brexit defeat at the hands of her own eurosceptic MPs on Thursday, with just weeks to go until …
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has backed comments by Boris Johnson’s Treasury secretary that the UK does not need a deal with the EU to trade with it.

On Monday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said on Sky News that the UK does not “need” a trade agreement with the bloc, saying: “We have left. There are lots of other ways that countries trade with each other.”

Speaking to Sky’s Kay Burley on Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster backed his colleague’s statement, saying: “Rishi’s right about everything.”

Mr Gove continued that the UK does not need a trade deal with the EU “because the most important thing to do is to make sure that, as a country, we’ve got the right economic policies and we do that by being an independent nation and by setting the tax policies, the regulation policies, and the other policies that are right for us.”

“The closer the commercial relationship the better,” the Cabinet minister said, “but we can’t have a close commercial relationship at the expense of allowing European courts, European judges, and European politicians dictating what happens here.

“We voted to be independent… It’s right to stand up for Britain and not accept terms from other countries [if] those terms aren’t right for us.”

The government is fortifying its bullish post-Brexit stance since the UK formally left the EU and London prepares to enter trade talks with Brussels. Eurocrats and European leaders have been threatening that there will be no trade deal unless the UK agrees to continue to abide by restrictive EU regulations.

The bloc’s chief UK-EU trade negotiator Michel Barnier has recently also said that there will be no deal without EU countries’ continued access to British fishing waters.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson doubled down on the government’s message that the UK will not be a “rule-taker” at the end of the transition period in December 2020, saying he would rather accept tariffs than more EU regulations.

The prime minister said that he would pursue a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU and if one is not agreed is prepared to trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization rules instead, saying that with or without a deal, “I have no doubt Britain will prosper.”

Prime Minister Johnson said: “We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the EU market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation, on the example of Canada. We have made our choice — we want a free trade agreement.”

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, admitted on Sunday that the EU’s reluctance to agreeing on a Canada-style deal — where 98 per cent of tariffs are waived — is simply because of the UK’s proximity to Europe, with Brussels fearing Brexit Britain as a competitive power in the region.

Sovereigntist campaigner Nigel Farage said that he observed, in his last day in the European Parliament, his EU colleagues feared the economic superpower being freed of EU restrictions.

Mr Farage said: “I got the sense in that debate that, for the first time since 2016, they are a little bit more frightened of us than we are of them.”

“What they fear more than anything — and bear in mind Italy is in recession, Germany is very close to being in recession — is a competitor on their doorstep. That terrifies them. What we should be doing, in our national interest, is to make sure we are a competitor on their doorstep,” he added.

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