Tory Brexiteers are increasingly calling on Theresa May to abandon the Chequers plan for Brexit in favour of a more basic free trade agreement in goods along the lines agreed between the EU and Canada.
What is the ‘Canada-style’ option?
This would see the UK agree a free trade deal with the EU along similar lines to the one put in place with Canada, rather than going for the much closer alignment with rules and regulations set by Brussels that is envisaged in the Government’s Chequers proposals.
Why is the Government hesitant about an agreement like the one with Canada?
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said that a Canada-style deal would mean agreeing to customs controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which is something the prime minister has insisted Britain could never accept.
What would a Canada deal mean?
The UK would have more control over issues like immigration and setting its own trade rules, but less access to EU markets.
Downing Street insist it would impact on the economic integrity of the UK, with Northern Ireland effectively remaining in parts of the single market and customs union.
Who’s for and against Canada-style?
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said it would lead to job losses, telling the BBC: “A Canada free-style deal is not the answer for our country.
“It would introduce friction at borders, it would not solve the Irish border, it would damage the supply chains on which thousands and thousands of jobs depend.”
However, former Brexit Secretary David Davis said a “Canada plus, plus, plus” accord that included financial services would be good for the UK and see full reciprocal market access, no tariffs on goods including agriculture and maximum recognition of regulatory standards.
A spokesman for Mrs May said: “In relation to ‘Canada plus’, no EU third country free trade agreement has ever led to a reduction in barriers to the extent that no hard border is needed, and there is no global precedent for an infrastructure-free border without substantial regulatory and customs alignment.”
How long would such a deal take to put together?
Negotiations between the EU and Canada lasted seven years, but Brexiteers insist the UK would be in a much better position as it already shares the same trade standards and rules as the rest of the EU.
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Just remember the Greek bailout was agreed over a weekend, regardless of all the EU regulations that said it was completely impossible, they sorted out the legal niceties and cost to the German taxpayer somewhat later.”
Britain wants a transition period between when it formally leaves the EU in March 2019 until December 2020 while it settles its future trading relationship with the bloc.