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Boris Johnson says he would prefer a Canada style trade agreement with the EU and his negotiator, David Frost, says the UK is open to an Australia-style deal.
Canada first opened talks with the European Commission to seek a trade deal in 1975. But the final deal was not signed until 2018.
But Canada is to put it politely a bit further from Europe than Britain, a European island state, is.
There are not thousands of lorries arriving each day from Canada or Australia into Britain with 80 per cent of the food we eat. There are not 73 million flights a year to Canada or Australia with British citizens who have free health and hospital care when they arrive as they do in Europe.
Canada and Australia do not have Japanese automobile plants making cars which can be sold to any of the EU’s 450 million customers without let or hindrance. Canadian and Australian fishing boats to not share the same waters as British fishermen, nor do they sell 60 per of all their catch to Europe.
In short, saying the UK can look to Canada or Australia as a model for its future trade relationship with Europe is comparing apples and oranges.
Brexit was not done on 31st January, will not get done this year and is going to last a very long time indeed.
Australia is even further away from the UK than Canada. Australia and New Zealand have been trying since 1921 to negotiate a trade deal on importing apples from New Zealand which Australian apple producers object and lobby their MPs to block.
It is borderline infantile to use Canada or Australia as serious examples of what the UK can negotiate with the EU27.
By Denis MacShane - former Labour Minister of Europe. His latest book is “Brexiternty. The Uncertain Fate of Britain” (IB Tauris-Bloomsbury)
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