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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why post-Brexit trade deals will be harder than May pretends

The Prime Minister may argue that one of the benefits of leaving the single market is that we will be able to have better control of our borders but she will soon discover that the UK cannot have its cake and eat it.

Brexiteers are seeking to reassure us that once we leave the EU, there will be many countries seeking to do a trade deal with the UK. I have already argued that in the case of the USA there are substantial downsides to such a deal both in terms of the quality of goods and food we may be forced to accept but also in the threat to national institutions such as the NHS.

The biggest lie though is that we can strike these deals on our terms whilst insisting only on the free-flow of goods but not people. That is amply illustrated by this article in the Independent, which reports that one of Britain's most important post-Brexit trade partnerships could be at risk due to Theresa May's refusal to reform visa restrictions for Indian citizens.

The paper says that a senior Indian official argues that: "mobility issues are of importance to us; we cannot separate free movement of people from the free flow of goods, services and investments”. And S Irudaya Rajan, an advisor to the Indian government on migration issues added: “India is an important country for the UK and curbing the flow of good minds, whether they are students or skilled workers, cannot be good for the UK.” 

The Brexiteers may think they have stemmed the flow of Europeans into the UK, but if they want to deal elsewhere then the free movement of people will remain a deal-breaker. Out of the frying pan into the fire for Theresa May and her merry band.
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