The best way out of the current impasse over the draft Withdrawal Agreement with the EU
would be to accept President Tusk’s offer, made in March and repeated as recently as
October, of a Free Trade Agreement involving zero tariffs and including services – extended
to the whole UK. That would involve replacing the Irish Protocol in the draft agreement by
a commitment by Ireland, the EU and UK that they will retain an invisible border between
Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, as all have pledged to do if there is no Withdrawal
As Donald Tusk rightly stated, this is the only potential agreement with the EU compatible
with the UK leaving the Single Market and Customs Union – as promised during the
referendum and in the Conservative manifesto pledge.
Such an agreement should be relatively simple to negotiate since we start even more closely
aligned – with zero tariffs and identical regulations – than Canada and the EU were when
they finished negotiating their Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
However, in case the EU refuse any substantive renegotiation of the draft agreement, the
government should simultaneously complete preparations for leaving without a withdrawal
agreement on WTO terms.
Ever since the referendum the Brexit-opposing media have been demonising what they call
“No Deal” but should be called WTO +++. The pluses of moving to WTO terms after 29th
March are explained in the following chapters: