And crucially, it is new. Eurosceptics never used to buy into itby Paul James Cardwell / September 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
“First of all, leaving the EU gives us back control of our trade policy, and gives us the opportunity to maximise returns from free trade.” These words were spoken by David Davis on 11th July last year.
Post-Brexit, getting trade deals with countries the world over has become the new mantra. The prime minister’s visit to Japan last week brought this into sharp focus. But getting new trade deals (and getting them quickly) seems to have become not just a consequence of Brexit but a reason for doing it. What is puzzling is where the desire for an “independent trade policy”—as Brexiteers call it—has come from so suddenly.
Under its Common Commercial Policy (CCP), the EU has exclusive competence to conclude trade deals: its member states do not have that power. This was in the treaty before the UK joined. And it is entirely consistent with having an EU single market. The idea that the UK will “win back” powers to conclude free trade agreements after Brexit is therefore correct, unless complicated by whatever transitional arrangements are put in place with the EU. So far, so good.
But just as the UK was in years past at the forefront of driving the single market agenda, successive UK governments have previously always been supportive of the CCP.
The predominant British view has traditionally been that the EU acting together carries a collective weight more than the UK or any other member state alone. This therefore amplified UK influence. The