Trade deals are bandied around by its supporters as one of the advantages of Brexit. We will be able to do all these wonderful trade deals which will make us better off.
Let’s just take a reality check. Now I’m no expert in trade deals, in fact few people in UK are, because we were part of the EU team. That’s maybe the point.
UK is joining the big league of trade dealers. Let’s just suppose it’s a league of the 10 top world economies. All the other teams are highly skilled and proven in the world trade dealing. The UK is just putting together a team to compete with the others, all at the same time.
If it were football, where do you think UK would finish at the end of the season, with a cobbled-together team playing against the best in the world, with a highly congested fixture programme? Bottom, obviously.
History tells us that trade deals are used by rich and powerful countries to control and exploit other countries. The British Empire, for example, is replete with examples, from cotton to salt. The current trade war between US and China is part of that pattern.
But the UK is rich and powerful, you say, the 5th or 9th largest economy in the world. So we can deal on equal terms with the others. Maybe. At the end of the day, sheer numbers mean that the smaller economy will usually have more to lose by not reaching a deal.
I’m not betting that we’ll have any deals any time soon, and the prospect of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU is as real as ever.
However, all is not necessarily negative. The impinging of reality on the Brexit project may result in Prime Minister Johnson agreeing to a deal that keeps us reasonably close to the EU. Of course, this would annoy the hard Brexiteers, just as he annoyed the DUP with the withdrawal agreement. We live in hope!
Featured image of President Trump attending agreement of beef deal with EU,
by The White House from Washington, DC via Wikimedia Commons.