Brexit: UK trade deals 'could be vetoed by other countries' after EU withdrawal

Former European Parliament president Pat Cox warned trade deals could be delayed if other countries vote against them

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European countries could block the UK’s attempts to get a favourable post-Brexit trade deal, the former president of the European Parliament has warned.

Pat Cox said some countries could dissent and refuse to ratify a deal, meaning the UK is unable to secure the approval it needs for an agreement. The Irish politician, who was president of the European Parliament 2002-2004, made the comments in a speech at the Cork Chamber’s annual dinner in Dublin, The Times reports.

He said: “[The Lisbon Treaty] will require European Council unanimity, European parliament assent and ratification by every parliament of the union or any regional parliament, such as Wallonia on the trade deal with Canada.

“Can you imagine just one MP with influence in one parliament on only one issue… who has a red line and could you imagine negotiating those red lines? And if [the UK] leaves the customs union they will need to join the World Trade Organisation, which needs the consensus of its 163 members to proceed.”

Mr Cox added: “Go figure who could delay things if they want to. This will be a hard and long road whether it is a hard or soft Brexit.”

The politician also warned “savage” elements of the Leave campaign will mean Theresa May is forced to create a Hard Brexit and criticised a growing climate of fear following attacks on High Court judges who ruled against The Prime Minister’s plans to trigger Article 50.

He said: “The judges [who made] the judgement have been instrumentalised to pass a message that anyone who puts their head above the parapet, who offends the keepers of the faith of Brexit will be taken on, taken down and taken out. 

“From whence derives my conclusion that the politics of Brexit will be harder and not softer because the guardians of Brexit will be savage and eviscerate anyone who chooses to take an alternative stand.”

Much uncertainty as to the conditions of Brexit continue. Ms May’s attempts to quell concerns by stating that "Brexit means Brexit" have done little to resolve unrest. A leaked internal document to the Cabinet Office titled ‘Brexit Update’ states the Government has no coherent plan for EU withdrawal. It criticises Ms May for “drawing in decisions and details to settle matters herself.”

During the Leave campaign, a number of pro-Brexit campaigners said the UK could withdraw from the EU and renegotiate a trade deal on its own terms, however the plans were criticised for appearing to lack detail or take into account motivations of other countries.

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