Brexit like “swapping a three-course meal for a packet of crisps”, says former UK trade official

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 27 February 2018 in News

Martin Donnelly, an ex-senior civil servant who served under Liam Fox, said the UK risked losing its “economic advantage” by leaving the single market

Image credit: PA

The former Permanent Secretary for International Trade has described leaving the single market as like “swapping a three-course meal for a packet of crisps”.

Martin Donnelly, an ex-senior civil servant who served under Liam Fox, said the UK risked losing its “economic advantage” by leaving the single market.

He also dismissed the Government’s assertion that it can secure all the benefits of its current trading arrangements with the EU during Brexit negotiations as “something for a fairy godmother”.

The former civil servant is expected follow International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s own address today in which he will set out his opposition to Britain joining a customs union with the EU.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Donnelly said: “The challenge if we choose not to stay in the single market is can we negotiate equal access in all those areas of services without agreeing to the same rules as everybody else?

“And I am afraid I think that is not something for a negotiation, it’s something for a fairy godmother – it’s not going to happen.

“You’re giving up a three-course meal, which is the depth and intensity of our trade relationships across the European Union and partners now, for the promise of a packet of crisps in the future if we manage to do deals outside the European Union, which aren’t going to compensate for what we are giving up.

“You have to look at the arithmetic, it doesn’t add up I’m afraid.”

In his address today, Fox will say that joining a customs union with the EU would be “selling out” and Britain must instead “exploit” new trading opportunities outside the bloc.

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