After leaving the European Union, the UK plans to negotiate trade agreements to replace and complement members of the EU Customs Union. Since October 2020[update], the UK has concluded a new trade agreement (with Japan) for the continuation of 20 existing agreements (EU) and new negotiations are under way. The British government calls itself a proponent of free trade.   This paper examines four demands made by Brexit supporters regarding the agreement reached by the United Kingdom after the withdrawal from the market with the EU. It examines the nature and importance of the UK-EU trade relationship and the potential impact of an exit from the EU customs union on the UK. The four assertions are based on inappropriate arguments, either logically inconsistent or ignoring the extent of the commitment required in trade agreements, which remove regulatory barriers and not just tariffs and border restrictions. We show that the attractiveness of the UK market will gradually diminish with the adoption of additional bilateral agreements. Finally, we analyse the consequences for the United Kingdom of the “removal of control” from its trade policy. Trade deals, of which the UK is a member of the EU, will no longer be valid if there is a Brexit without a deal.
The “Brussels” effect is not the only obstacle for the Uk. Given the recent trend towards comprehensive agreement, negotiations need more time to succeed. As Table 1 shows, the EU and Canada concluded CETA after more than seven years. Negotiations on the EU-Japan Free Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement have already been the subject of an incredible 17 rounds of negotiations, with no certainty of reaching a compromise in the near future. This is not good for the UK. First, negotiations can easily go beyond the mandate of this government. A new government could have other priorities. This uncertainty could deter potential trading partners from entering into negotiations. Ironically, the EU is benefiting from its greatest political inertia in this matter. The three main political groups in the European Parliament – the EPP, the S-D and form a relatively stable majority. The EU customs union is essential to internal free trade.
If Member States are free to sign their own agreements with third countries and set their own tariffs, it would be necessary to monitor internal borders in order to prevent products from third countries from passing through low-tariff countries. A free trade agreement between the UK and the EU will free the UK from common EU external tariffs and allow it to negotiate and conclude bilateral trade agreements.