Is every single British Conservative going to take turns writing the exact same article? It is honestly boring now. I know what I am going to read before I even click!

Hard-Brexiteer Priti Patel wrote an article, published by the Financial Times last Saturday, “Britain should have no fear in pursuing a WTO Brexit”.

Financial Times

In her article, Priti Patel argues that “the UK needs to look beyond the shores of Europe”.

Yes, China and India are growing rapidly, as are a host of others. However, the 4th (Germany), 7th (France) and 9th (Italy) largest economies in the world are within spitting distance of the UK’s shores and No-Deal makes trading with them far more painful.

The countries growing most rapidly are also the ones with whom an ambitious Free Trade Agreement has historically been very difficult to achieve.

This type of article acts like the European Union has just failed to spot Asia or like Spain’s orange tariff sensitivities are the sticking point in FTAs with China.

Then, they say, “We could have had Canada.”

First, you still can. Canada+++ covers the future relationship, not the Withdrawal Agreement.

Second, you bemoan trade surpluses with the European Union as a tragedy but suggest Canada which retains EU goods access — but limits UK services access. The deficit would get worse!

Then there is so much to unpack in Patel’s article. For instance: No, 98% of the world does not “trade on WTO rules”. WTO rules establish an absolute baseline atop which WTO members have spent decades building a huge network of agreements.

For example, a European Single Market.

Ah yes, America...

First, the US disagrees with you about your surplus.

Second, the UK did not just wake up one morning and export $108.7b to the US. It took businesses time to identify market access opportunities, learn to navigate US systems and carve a niche there.

Third, let’s actually take a look at those exports Priti Patel is talking about.

Oh! Vehicles, machinery, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Any chance the UK’s ability to provide those relied on friction-less trade with the rest of the EU or on Freedom of Movement for scientists and researchers? Any at all?

Ah yes, this ol' chestnut. UK trade with non-EU has been growing three times faster. To arrive at this meaningless mangling of statistics, authors point to charts like this one. See if you can spot an outlier:

Every sentence in this paragraph is misleading at best. WTO rules prevent the European Union from leveling tariffs greater than those they offer another WTO member with whom they have no Free Trade Agreement and no preferences. There is nothing ‘arbitrary’ about the health checks UK agriculture would face.

Now, this is just straight up inaccurate. Forget expertise for a moment. Does anyone reading this honestly believe 164 Members signed up to a treaty legally binding them to use ‘all the technology at their disposal’ to make all their borders friction-less? Really?

To be clear, what the Japanese Prime Minister is offering is the chance for the UK to begin accession negotiations into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This would entail 11 one-sided negotiations in which any of the other parties could hold the UK’s entry hostage to push for greater concessions.

That the Commonwealth is not launching a trade embargo of the United Kingdom following Brexit must come as a huge relief to...

<checks notes>

No, these are just blank.

I have no idea who may have thought this.

Britain is a great global nation already. Making trade more difficult with Europe to try and get an Free Trade Agreement with India is not the answer.

And I am honestly not even sure what the question is.🔷

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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article, with the author’s conscent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)

(Cover: Dreamtime/Ifeelstock.)