Britain could escape a “hard Brexit” — the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal — if it listens to its new prominent special advisor David Frost.
Foreign Secretary and Brexiteer Boris Johnson’s new special advisor said in June that “whole industries could be destroyed” if the UK gets Brexit negotiations wrong.
Frost is leaving his role as chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to advise Johnson on foreign affairs, having worked previously worked as a government trade negotiator and diplomat.
He wrote in a Telegraph article in June that Brexit would be “our most complex negotiation ever,” and warned that “we can’t afford to get it wrong.”
Frost called for a positive approach to negotiations, and suggested that the UK to adopt a Norway-style transitional arrangement. In that scenario, the UK would remain in the European single market, a free trade agreement between EU countries.
He said: “We should say that we intend, after exit, to retain this status for say five years and to use that period to reflect and if necessary negotiate a Free Trade Agreement like Canada’s, if that is what we want to do, or to keep Norway status if we don’t.”
The government is thought to be against a “Norway model” — even a transitional one — as it would prevent them from being able to place significant curbs on immigration.
This is what a “Norway model” would look like — a “soft Brexit:”
Prime Minister Theresa May said at the beginning of October: “It’s not going to be a Norway model. It’s not going to be a Switzerland model. It’s going to be an agreement between the European Union and an independent United Kingdom.”
Johnson has also hinted that he favours leaving the single market, having stated that the arrangement is “increasingly useless.”
The SWA warned in August that leaving the EU is likely to result in much higher export tariffs. Frost called at the time for the government to “bring clarity to the transition to Brexit as soon as possible, and to negotiate to ensure that the current open trading environment is not affected.”
His new position will also mean leaving his role as a Brexit advisor to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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