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However, despite their genuine desire for a Canada-style deal, sadly, such an outcome is completely impossible as long as the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and its associated Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) remain in place.
The new Centre for Brexit Policy (CBP) report, EU Deal Unmasked: Twelve Reasons why the UK will fail to get a Canada-style deal, has identified the reasons why the WA prevents the UK from reaching the much vaunted “Canada plus plus” arrangement.
A genuine Canada-style deal for the UK would be a good result.
With that ambition in mind, this report goes through the WA fine print and finds that far from its ambition, the UK is on the brink of signing up to a deal which gives the EU’s goods and agriculture-products the access it needs to the very lucrative U.K. market, whilst handing over significant legal control to Brussels at the same time. Not I believe what the British people voted for.
Interestingly the Canada-style agreement was previously suggested by both Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier – indeed Barnier once claimed that a Canada-style FTA was the “only logical outcome”.
However, the EU has since moved away from this commitment as it recognises that the current arrangements set out in the WA prevent such a deal from ever being possible.
The CBP paper carefully exposes to public view the twelve critical areas in which the benefits of Canada’s deal cannot be replicated in any meaningful way in a UK/EU Future Relationship Agreement, incorporating the WA and the NIP.
Britain is nearing the end of negotiations with the EU (Image: Getty)
These problems negatively impact UK sovereignty, the trading relationship between the UK and the EU as well as the governance of the relationship.
Firstly, provisions within the WA mean that the UK will not achieve freedom from a whole host of EU strictures.
These include EU control of state aid, long-term European Court of Justice jurisdiction, ongoing financial penalties and EU laws superseding UK law.
As a direct comparison, none of the above is required from Canada. Not only will we not be free from direct EU control – the WA and NIP also impinge on the internal structures of the United Kingdom.
The NIP mandates tariffs and regulatory checks on the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Again, Canada is not required to throw up any customs borders between its provinces.
Boris Johnson is demanding the UK and EU trade with a Canada style deal (Image: Getty)
Canada has an agreement that is respectful of the quality of testing and professional standards from both the EU and Canada with provisions for the mutual recognition of goods testing. It also allows for progressive liberalisation of trade in financial and other services and professional recognition.
However, despite the UK and the EU having exactly the same testing regulations on goods when the Transition Period ends – the EU is refusing to countenance recognition of goods testing and certification by UK based bodies.
Moreover, despite financial and other service sectors making up nearly 80 per cent of our economy, the UK government seems oblivious to the reality that the current arrangements for our future relationship in services, are far worse than those applying to Canada.
These 12 powerful and unanswerable reasons why our aspiration for a Canada plus, plus deal is, even as we negotiate, blocked by our commitment to the WA.
The inconvenient truth is that to achieve this aspiration, major changes to the WA are required. Unless the government embarks an a bold plan to strip out most of the invidious provisions from the coming Future Relationship Agreement there is no way that the government can achieve their goal.
Boris Johnson is right and I support him in his reasonable demand For the UK and EU to trade with a Canada style deal.
After all, after 40 years it is clearly the best concept by which to shape our desired outcome. However this can only be achieved if the Prime Minister roots out the WA’s many failings.
If not then it is certain that the hope that we can get a Canada Plus Plus deal will turn into a retreat to a Canada Minus Minus, one which is worse in almost every single way for a proud and sovereign country like ours.