EU Referendum

Brexit: the height of irresponsibility


Mr Lilley tells us that "Brexit should be swift". The main item for negotiation, he declares: "will then be the terms on which the EU and UK will trade with each other".

For the nature of such an agreement, and the terms we should expect, we must look to the EU, which in turn directs us to the trade agreement with the Republic of Korea, for an example of a free trade agreement structure. Looking at the 1,432 pages of that treaty, the substantive part covers the first 73 pages, taking in these heads:
Elimination of customs duties; Standstill; Administration and implementation of tariff-rate quotas; Non-tariff measures; National treatment; Import and export restrictions; Fees and other charges on imports; Duties, taxes or other fees and charges on exports; State trading enterprises; Elimination of sectoral non-tariff measures; Specific exceptions related to goods; General exceptions; Institutional provisions; Committee on Trade in Goods; Special provisions on administrative cooperation; TRADE REMEDIES; Bilateral safeguard measures; Application of a bilateral safeguard measure; Conditions and limitations; Provisional measures; Compensation; Agricultural safeguard measures; Global safeguard measures; Anti-dumping and countervailing duties; General provisions; Notification; Consideration of public interests; Investigation after termination resulting from a review; Cumulative assessment; De-minimis standard applicable to review; Lesser duty rule; Dispute settlement; Institutional provisions; Working Group on Trade Remedy Cooperation; TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE; Scope and definitions; Joint cooperation; Technical regulations; Standards; Conformity assessment and accreditation; Market surveillance; Conformity assessment fees; Marking and labelling; Coordination mechanism; SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES; Objective; Scope; Definition; Rights and obligations; Transparency and exchange of information; International standards; Import requirements; Measures linked to animal and plant health; Cooperation on animal welfare; Committee on sanitary and phytosanitary measures; Dispute settlement; CUSTOMS AND TRADE FACILITATION; Objectives and principles; Release of goods; Simplified customs procedure; Risk management; Transparency; Advance rulings; Appeal procedures; Confidentiality; Fees and charges; Pre-shipment inspections; Post-clearance audit; Customs valuation; Customs cooperation; Mutual administrative assistance in customs matters; Customs contact points; TRADE IN SERVICES, ESTABLISHMENT AND ELECTRONIC COMMERCE; General provisions; Objective, scope and coverage; Definitions; Committee on Trade in Services, Establishment and Electronic Commerce; Cross-border supply of services; Scope and definitions; Market access; National treatment; Lists of commitments; MFN treatment; Establishment; Definitions; Scope; Market access; National treatment; Lists of commitments; MFN treatment; Other agreements; Review of the investment legal framework; Temporary presence of natural persons for business; Scope and definitions; Key personnel and graduate trainees; Business service sellers; Contractual service supplier and independent professionals; Regulatory framework; Provisions of general application; Mutual recognition; Transparency and confidential information; Domestic regulation; Governance; Computer services; Postal and courier services; Regulatory principles; Telecommunications services; Regulatory authority; Authorisation to provide telecommunications services; Competitive safeguards on major suppliers; Interconnection; Number portability; Allocation and use of scarce resources; Universal service; Confidentiality of information; Resolution of telecommunications disputes; Financial services; Scope and definitions; Prudential carve-out; Transparency; Self-regulatory organisations; Payment and clearing systems; New financial services; Data processing; Specific exceptions; Dispute settlement; Recognition; International maritime transport services; Scope, definitions and principles; Electronic commerce; Objective and principles; Cooperation on regulatory issues; Exceptions; PAYMENTS AND CAPITAL MOVEMENTS; Current payments; Capital movements; Exceptions; GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT; General provisions; Scope and coverage; Government Procurement Working Group; INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY; General provisions; Objectives; Nature and scope of obligations; Transfer of technology; Exhaustion; Standards concerning intellectual property rights; Copyright and related rights; Protection granted; Duration of authors’ rights; Broadcasting organisations; Cooperation on collective management of rights; Broadcasting and communication to the public; Artists’ resale right in works of Art; Limitations and exceptions; Protection of technological measures; Protection of rights management information; International agreements; Trademarks; Registration procedure; Exceptions to the rights conferred by a trademark; Geographical indications; Recognition of geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs and wines; Recognition of specific geographical indications for wines, aromatised wines and spirits; Right of use; Scope of protection; Enforcement of protection; Relationship with trademarks; Addition of geographical indications for protection; Working Group on Geographical Indications; Individual applications for protection of geographical indications; Designs; Protection of registered designs; Rights conferred by registration; Protection conferred to unregistered appearance; Term of protection; Exceptions; Relationship with copyright; International agreement; Patents and public health; Extension of the duration of the rights conferred by patent protection; Protection of data submitted to obtain a marketing authorisation for pharmaceutical products; Protection of data submitted to obtain a marketing authorisation for plant protection products; Implementation; Other provisions; Plant varieties; Genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore; Enforcement of intellectual property rights General obligations; Entitled applicants; Civil measures, procedures and remedies; Evidence; Provisional measures for preserving evidence; Right of information; Provisional and precautionary measures; Corrective measures; Injunctions; Alternative measures; Damages; Legal costs; Publication of judicial decisions; Presumption of authorship or ownership; Criminal enforcement; Scope of criminal enforcement; Geographical indications and designs counterfeiting; Liability of legal persons; Aiding and abetting; Seizure; Penalties; Confiscation; Rights of third parties; Liability of online service providers; Liability of online service providers: ‘mere conduit’; Liability of online service providers: ‘caching’; Liability of online service providers: ‘hosting’; No general obligation to monitor; Border measures; Codes of conduct; Cooperation; Competition; Principles; Definitions; Implementation; Public enterprises and enterprises entrusted with special rights or exclusive rights; State monopolies; Cooperation; Consultation; Dispute settlement; Subsidies; Principles; Definitions of a subsidy and specificity; Prohibited subsidies; Transparency; Relation with the WTO Agreement; Monitoring and review; Scope; TRANSPARENCY; Definitions; Objective and scope; Publication; Enquiries and contact points; Administrative proceedings; Review and appeal; Regulatory quality and performance and good administrative behaviour; Non-discrimination; TRADE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT; Context and objectives; Scope; Right to regulate and levels of protection; Multilateral labour standards and agreements; Multilateral environmental agreements; Trade favouring sustainable development; Upholding levels of protection in the application and enforcement of laws, regulations or standards; Scientific information; Transparency; Review of sustainability impacts; Cooperation; Institutional mechanism; Civil society dialogue mechanism; Government consultations; Panel of experts; Dispute settlement; DISPUTE SETTLEMENT; Objective and scope; Consultations; Dispute settlement procedures; Arbitration procedure; Initiation of the arbitration procedure; Establishment of the arbitration panel; Interim panel report; Arbitration panel ruling; Compliance; Compliance with the arbitration panel ruling; The reasonable period of time for compliance; Review of any measure taken to comply with the arbitration panel ruling; Temporary remedies in case of non-compliance; Review of any measure taken to comply after the suspension of obligations; Mutually agreed solution; Rules of procedure; Information and technical advice; Rules of interpretation; Arbitration panel decisions and rulings; General provisions; List of arbitrators; Relation with WTO obligations; Time limits; INSTITUTIONAL, GENERAL AND FINAL PROVISIONS; Trade Committee; Specialised committees; Working Groups; Decision-making; Amendments; Contact points; Taxation; Balance-of-payments exceptions; Security exceptions; Entry into force; Duration; Fulfilment of obligations; Annexes, appendices, protocols and notes; Relation with other agreements; Territorial application; Authentic texts.
And if Mr Lilley thinks he can get that sorted in two years, he's welcome to try. Negotiations on the EU-South Korea FTA started in 2006 and the final agreement entered into force on 1 July 2011. However, this was only the last stage of a process which had started in 1993. Delivery of the current 1,336-page trading agreement, alongside a broader-ranging 64-page framework agreement on political co-operation, took almost 18 years.

As it stands, there is no possibility of a bespoke completion within two years. People such as Lilley should stop pretending otherwise. To maintain his current stance is, to say the very least, the height of irresponsibility.