THE EU and Switzerland took 17 years to hammer out a one-off bilateral trade deal, which was reportedly nowhere near as complex as the one Boris Johnson is trying to negotiate. Does this example prove it might take almost two decades before a proper withdrawal agreement is confirmed by both Britain and the bloc?
Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July on the promise to deliver Brexit by October 31, “do or die”. However, September has already proved to be disastrous for the former Mayor of London, who suffered two significant defeats in the House of Commons. MPs passed a bill to block a no deal exit and then pulled the plug on his attempt to call a general election.
Both the Labour Party and the Lib Dems made clear their priority is for an election but after October 31, once a no deal Brexit has been avoided.
Without a general election in near sight, speculation is mounting Mr Johnson will be left with no option but to ask for a third delay to Brexit – a move which has proved catastrophic for his predecessor.
Theresa May postponed Britain’s departure from the bloc twice, after her withdrawal agreement was rejected by Parliament on three dramatic occasions.
In a newly-resurfaced Daily Telegraph report, author Christopher Booker had already predicted that Mrs May’s “utterly bizarre and potentially catastrophic” Brexit plan would have failed.
In January 2017, the author argued the former Prime Minister had showed no real sign of understanding the fearsome complexities of what a successful disentanglement from the EU would involve.
Three months before Mrs May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which set the Brexit time bomb kicking and locked the country into an impossibly tight schedule to prepare its case, Mr Booker wrote: “She imagines that, within two years, we can hammer out a one-off bilateral trade deal, comparable with that between the EU and Switzerland which took 17 years to negotiate.
“She seemed oblivious to how complicated and ‘resource intensive’ such agreements are: so much so that the EU has already said it wants no more such deals with its neighbours.
“Also not irrelevant is its deal with South Korea, 18 years in the making, with 1,336 pages on trading arrangements; plus a further 64-page agreement, as is usual in such deals, requiring ‘political co-operation’ on a range of further topics.”