Trade expert: We can’t ‘harden’ Brexit later if we agree to Chequers

Trade expert: We can’t ‘harden’ Brexit later if we agree to Chequers

A leading trade expert has attacked the idea that the government can ‘harden up’ Brexit if it sticks with the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan.

Speaking to BrexitCentral, Shanker Singham said it would be “incredibly difficult” to change the rules “once you’re locked into an arrangement with the EU”.

Singham, who heads up the International Trade Unit at the IEA, criticised Chequers for taking the UK’s independent trade policy “off the table” which would prevent the UK from seeing any of the benefits of Brexit.

“Some people have suggested we can be in the EEA…. and then sort of seek to diverge if we want to at that stage,

“It’s very difficult once you’re locked into an arrangement with the EU, it’s incredibly difficult to change it.”

He said Chequers rules out a trade deal with the US or the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that if it was adopted: “you may as well stay in the EU”.

Singham said there had been a lot of goodwill towards Britain’s position after the Lancaster House speech but since then there has been “less and less clarity” and other countries are “now confused about what the UK seems to want”.

Despite all this, Singham, who has worked on trade policy throughout the world, sees a positive outcome if Britain adopts the right policies, and says other countries would see it as a game changer if the second largest exporter of services decided to re-join the global trading scene:

“Sometimes we look at ourselves and think, ‘we’re a second-rate power in decline and we can’t do anything’

“That’s not how the rest of the world sees it, and it’s not what they expect”

But he had a message for the UK’s negotiating team:

“I think unfortunately we’ve been playing Chequers and we need to be playing Chess.”