David Davis responds to Alistair Darling’s claim that Brexit would threaten trade


Today the former chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling, has claimed that leaving the EU could put £250bn of British trade, as well as jobs, low prices and financial security, at risk.

Mr Darling also claimed that negotiating new free trade deals with key export markets could take an average of six years.

The former chancellor’s remarks were based on analysis of British exports to the EU and other countries with which the EU has a free trade agreement by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.

In response to these claims David Davis MP said:

“This is yet more wrong economic analysis and scaremongering from the Remain campaign. The £250bn of trade that is supposedly at risk is as false as the supposed 3 million jobs that were at risk if we left the EU, a number which even the Remain campaign is now embarrassed to use. The claim that our trade with the EU, and other nations with which the EU has negotiated a trade deal, would decrease by a third in the event of Brexit is clearly absurd.

Once again the Remain campaign is overstating a worse than worst case scenario, rather than basing their analysis on more likely outcomes of Brexit.

For example, the Remain campaign claims that leaving the EU would mean introducing tariffs to our trade. This is extremely unlikely. The CEOs of Mercedes, VW, Citroen, Peugeot and many others would be hammering down Merkel’s and Hollande’s doors if there was any suggestion that tariffs would be imposed on UK/EU trade.

The Remain campaign also assumes that UK trade would revert to a WTO basis in the event of Brexit. The reality is that Britain is a signatory to the EU’s trade deals, and in the event of Brexit our trade partners will follow the usual practice in State succession cases and accept the rolling over of our current arrangements while new deals are negotiated. There is no basis for the Remain campaign’s scaremongering that our trade partners will erect mutually damaging trade barriers immediately in the event of Brexit.

And the suggestion that it would take six years to negotiate new trade deals is also wrong. It takes the EU over twice as long as other nations to negotiate trade deals on average.

Indeed, while it took 70 months from the start of negotiations to the EU-Singapore trade deal to come into effect. It took New Zealand only 16 months to negotiate a similar deal. When it comes to trade deals, the EU is slow and inefficient, and the resultant deal often hinders Britain’s trade more than it helps.

Britain would negotiate our own deals far faster. And while most EU free trade deals have actually resulted in the growth of Britain’s trade with those nations decreasing, trade deals negotiated by us would be in Britain’s interests, rather than deals that benefit French farmers and German car manufacturers.

On top of this, we already have a full trade relationship with the EU. Our economy is standardised with those of the other members of the EU. We would not be starting from scratch, and the suggestion that Britain would have to completely renegotiate this relationship is simply not true.

The fact is, once we have control of our own trade policy the UK will be able to negotiate new trade deals with our target markets, unencumbered by the special interest that plague EU trade negotiations.

However much the falsity of the Remain campaign’s so called analysis is repeatedly uncovered, they continue to produce similarly erroneous reports. Unsurprisingly the British people are unconvinced and unimpressed by such liberty with the facts.”