Brexit with WTO rules?

Is a no-deal Brexit actually beneficial for Britain?

The Guardian

The Brexiteers' idea of how WTO rules would work is pure fantasy | Kojo Koram

A £2bn contingency fund, 3,500 troops on standby, and reserved space on ferries: these are some of the government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit. With Theresa May stepping up the planning, what was once seen as economic disaster for Britain, is being rebranded as a “clean break” from the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. Jacob Rees-Mogg tweets: “WTO terms are much better than remaining shackled to the EU.” Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin is currently touring the country telling anyone who will listen that only “project fear” thinks Britain being relegated to WTO terms will be damaging and that a no-deal Brexit will allow us to become one of the “champions of free trade” once again.

With this narrative gaining popularity in some corners, it has brought the WTO into the national conversation in a way that hasn’t happened before. While other countries struggle to understand why any nation would willingly leave the world’s largest trading bloc to trade on WTO terms, they overlook the connection between the WTO’s image as a vehicle for free trade and the vision of history where “the terms ‘Britain’ and ‘free trade’ were virtually synonymous” that Brexiteers cling to.

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What does a no-deal Brexit actually look like?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

"No deal is better than a bad deal." This was the reassurance delivered by Theresa May with all the conviction of a child who has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and chocolate smeared around their lips, but they are still trying to convince their mother they weren't going to steal any biscuits.

The truth is, no deal is a bad deal for both Britain and the EU. The clock is ticking, and time is running out to prevent it. Ever since the prime minister triggered Article 50 and set an arbitrary deadline for the UK's exit from the bloc, time has not been kind for the government. Brexit is mere months away - Britain will depart from the bloc at 11pm on March 29.

There could be a chance that no deal is reached at all, and Britain could face a cliff-edge Brexit. But what does that actually look like?

Overnight, all EU rules and regulations will instantly cease to apply to the UK. There will be no remaining agreements between Britain and the bloc on how to manage customs, travel, trade, or citizens' right. And if that wasn't enough of a shock to the system, the transition period between March 2019 and December 2020 would be off the table, leaving businesses and organisations with no time to respond to the changes.

"If there's no arrangement in time," the Daily Mirror observes, "we'll lost 70 international trade deals in a blink, shed access to EU criminal databases and likely have stockpiles of food and medicine at the stroke of 11pm."

The UK would revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. This means that it would have to face the EU's external tariffs, leading to price hikes on goods imported from the bloc. According to the i, British-made products may be rejected by the EU as new authorisation and certification might be required.

"It would swap membership of the EU’s single market for the most bare-bones trading relationship possible," the Economist argues. By ripping up the 45 years of arrangements with the EU, the "violent dislocation" of arrangements between Britain and the continent would "affect daily life like nothing outside wartime".

It also means that the fate of expats in Britain and the EU would be unclear. There are 1.3 million Britons living in EU countries, and 3.7 million Europeans in the UK. Their rights to live and work could be up in the air without a deal.

There is uncertainty over trade for UK firms, and there is uncertainty over their employees. At the start of last year, Sadiq Khan released an economic forecast, with Cambridge Econometrics, that models five possible scenarios for leaving the EU: from a same-but-different situation to leaving on World Trade Organisation terms without a transition. The forecast projects, in the worst option, that Britain could face a "lost decade" of economic slump. A cliff-edge Brexit could cause the UK to lose half a million jobs and nearly £50 billion in investment by 2030, according to the report.

A hard Brexit could result in London losing as many as 87,000 jobs. It is not an unrealistic figure. Sam Woods, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, told a parliamentary committee in November 2017 that the capital could face 75,000 job losses - with the City potentially losing 10,000 jobs on day one of Brexit.

With all things considered, a no-deal Brexit would be a bad deal with huge implications. Overnight, Britain could be thrown into a crisis when suddenly stripped of its agreements with the EU.

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Why we should leave the EU on WTO terms

The United Kingdom's prowess was built on global trade. And the strength and innovation that made such trade possible was built on the backs of working people over successive generations. The history of this country is written in commercial contacts. From shipbuilders on the Clyde to mills in Lancashire, from the potters of Stoke to the miners of South Wales and the traders in London, it was ordinary men and women who transformed this country from a small, middle-ranking nation off the coast of Europe into a global free-trading state.

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