David Campbell-Bannerman has called for the Government to forget about the “absurd” vote to take no-deal off the table, and use World Trade Organization (WTO) Article 24 to continue trading with the EU tariff-free until a good deal is made.
Writing for BrexitCentral on Wednesday, the Conservative Party MEP and board member of Leave Means Leave said that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Article 24 “offers Britain a remarkable opportunity to leave the EU cleanly” by allowing the UK and EU to “agree a very basic Free Trade Agreement that would keep tariffs at zero for the duration of the period the two sides negotiate a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.”
The Brexiteer argues that it would provide a trade negotiation “stop gap” and still allow the UK to leave the EU as scheduled on March 29th, “while at the same time, avoiding any uncertainty that could negatively impact our economy or that of the EU” and save businesses from calculating tariffs.
After Prime Minister Theresa May lost her second vote on her Withdrawal Agreement Tuesday night, the House of Commons is set to vote today on whether to leave the EU with a No Deal — a proposition Mr Campbell-Bannerman labelled “absurd,” urging instead for a “meaningful vote” on GATT Article 24 “as a safe, alternative Brexit deal that would get Britain out of the EU with minimal drama” and which “deliver[s] on the result of the referendum.”
Meanwhile, the Government has announced that around 87 per cent of import tariffs could be slashed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, The Times reported Wednesday, and there would be no controls at the Irish border, with all goods crossing into Northern Ireland doing so without checks for a “strictly temporary” period.
Levies will remain on some items coming from abroad including cars as well as fertiliser, fuel, certain ceramics, beef, lamb, poultry, and some dairy products to protect British producers from “unfair global trading practices.” The move may also bring down the price of goods in shops for British consumers.
In an attempt to stop the mass resignation of Cabinets Remainers, Mrs May last month offered the House the opportunity to vote to take a no-deal off the table should she lose her second vote, and if a clean break is voted against, allow MPs to vote to extend Article 50, thereby delaying the country’s exit from the EU.
After the prime minister lost her vote last night, May told Parliament that she would not be whipping Conservative Party MPs to back a no-deal — holding out that the only acceptable option is for the UK to leave with a deal — and the Europhile-dominated lower house is likely to vote against a WTO exit.
However, the European Research Group’s chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC after the vote, “The default legal position remains, as the Prime Minister pointed out, that we still leave on March 29th.
“The House of Commons voted twice for bills that became Acts of Parliament that mean that they leave on the 29th of March. They voted for the Article 50 Act, and the Withdrawal Act. The Article 50 Act paved the way for the 29th of March and the Withdrawal Act specifically mentions it.”
“It would have to be changed by law, and the law is not easy to change,” he added.
The ERG chairman noted that the only way to extend Article 50 could be to ask of an extension of the EU; however, Brussels bureaucrats immediately responded to the news of the vote and Mrs May allowing MPs to potentially vote for a Brexit delay by saying that instead the UK should prepare for a No Deal exit.
Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, in comments to the European Parliament this morning, said that “This treaty is and will remain the only available treaty” and extending Article 50 would only be granted if there were a “clear plan.”
“We are at a critical point — the risk of no deal has never been higher,” Mr Barnier added.