James Forsyth

Theresa May’s Brexit paper could mean no US trade deal

Theresa May's Brexit paper could mean no US trade deal
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Earlier this afternoon, Cabinet Ministers received key papers ahead of the Chequers meeting tomorrow. The paper states that ‘The UK should maintain a common rulebook for all goods including agri-food’. It goes on that the UK will make ‘an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules on goods’. As I say in the magazine this week, one of the key questions is how this will be done. If, as Downing Street currently wants, parliament is in charge of this process then the Brexiteers might be able to stomach it. But if the EU insist on this process being automatic then I expect that several Cabinet Brexiteers would find this unacceptable. 

On services, which make up the vast bulk of the UK economy, the paper states that ‘we would strike a different arrangement for services, where it is our interests to have regulatory flexibility, recognising this will result in reduced market access.’

But what has really riled ministers is the section on what this deal with the EU would mean for future trade deals. The paper is explicit that this deal ‘would not allow the UK to accommodate a likely ask from the US in a future trade deal’ as the UK would be unable to recognise the US’s ‘array of standards’.

Brexiteers are taking this as Theresa May effectively ruling out a post-Brexit trade deal with the US just days before the US President arrives in this country.