As pressure mounts, it’s becoming ever clearer that the proposed Chequers plan lacks the support from politicians across parliament, businesses, the EU, and the British public.
Yesterday, a string of prominent MPs: David Davis, Boris Johnson, Kate Hoey, and remainer Justine Greening slammed Chequers, along with numerous Conservative MPs who are calling for a new plan with the EU, before its too late.
Recent polling suggests that a meagre 11% of Brits support the plan, with Justine Greening labelling it ”more unpopular than the poll tax.”
So with time running out, what easily adaptable plan could the UK implement?
The club which accounts for 98% of global trade
One of the lines often trotted out by proponents of Chequers is that the UK and EU are simply out of time to start over. It’s Chequers or the dreaded ‘no deal.’
In reality no deal means defaulting back onto WTO – an organisation in which 98% of Global trade is already conducted.
Leaving the EU with no deal – then trading with the EU under ordinary WTO terms – would mean the opportunity to immediately negotiate and sign our own free trade agreements with partners like the United States, and would give us the chance to join other trade agreements that already exist, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, improving our trade opportunities with the fastest growing regions on earth.
Moving to WTO terms would also allow the UK to fully retain control of its laws, borders, and regulations – unlike in the plan set out by the Government’s White Paper, for example. This does not mean some kind of crisis at customs or ports. The opportunities WTO terms would allow in this ‘no trade deal’ scenario would outweigh any obstacles.
WTO growth on the up
In fact, it is not at all clear that the UK’s trade with the EU-27 has been significantly improved from being inside the EU. From 1993 to 2015, countries trading with the EU under WTO rules grew exports to the EU four times faster than the UK.
So the countries with the highest levels of trade growth with the EU have operated under WTO rules. Meanwhile, countries trading with the EU on WTO terms saw 135% real terms economic growth, still above the 107% among countries with bilateral or bespoke arrangements with the EU.
With Chequers clearly dead on arrival, the UK should adopt the easiest and most effective plan on offer. The WTO is that plan.