Boris Johnson’s trade talk shows Brexit is not a done deal

Not for the first time, the prime minister’s words may come back to haunt him, writes Sean O'Grady

Monday 03 February 2020 21:12
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Boris Johnson sets out his vision for a trade deal at the Old Naval College in Greenwich
Boris Johnson sets out his vision for a trade deal at the Old Naval College in Greenwich

The prime minister is well known for eschewing detail and travelling light when approaching policy dilemmas. So light, in fact, that he ties to glide over them.

Even so, his landmark speech at Greenwich on the future of British international trade was exceptionally sparse. Approaching a half of British exports go to the European Union, as of now, and millions of jobs depend on what new arrangements will take the place of the single market and the customs union, which have operated for nearly 30 and 50 years respectively.

Yet all Boris Johnson had to say in specifics – leaving aside his references to the glories of Britain’s maritime past – was: “The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s. And I have no doubt that in either case the UK will prosper.”

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