- Senior Brexit supporting politicians helped launch an Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) report, called ‘Plan A+.’
- David Davis, Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart all publicly supported the report, which called for the UK to diverge from EU regulations and lower tariffs.
- However, the plan was criticised by trade experts, who labelled it “not thought through”.
- Plan A+ is seen by many as the most coherent plan put forward by anti-Chequers Brexiteers so far.
- In Plan A+, Freedom of Movement is replaced with a “balanced framework…that recognises the economic and social benefits and costs of immigration.”
LONDON – Hard Brexiteers launched an alternate Brexit strategy on Monday as Theresa May’s own Brexit plan continues to falter.
The so-called “Plan A+”, a discussion paper by IEA staffers Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote, was launched on Monday at the Gladstone Library, alongside a supportive panel including David Davis and Jacob Rees Mogg.
Singham described the report as a precursor to an independent trade deal, and hit out at Theresa May’s own Chequers proposals as a “small damage-limitation exercise.”
Singham, who BuzzFeed in May revealed to be a close ally of Liam Fox and Steve Baker, was in attendance. The economist described the Irish border as a diplomatic problem and outlined plans he believed to be as “simple as a tax return” regarding customs divergence between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Five things you need to know about Plan A+
Here are the 5 main points from the proposals:
1. The IEA says the UK should stick to the agreements already made with the EU on the £39 billion divorce bill, EU citizens, and the transition period.
2. But it says there should be a new backstop for Ireland which involves new laws. It says Northern Ireland should be treated differently to the rest of the UK to avoid a hard border, retaining all EU agricultural health checks, and proposes checks for other products, such as medicines, should be carried out away from the Northern Ireland-Ireland border. Experts suggested the proposals would not altogether remove the need for a border, however.
3. On trade, the report recommends scrapping the “common rulebook” for goods proposed in May’s Chequers blueprint. It says such a scheme would make it “all but impossible” to do trade deals with non-EU countries.
4. On trade, the IEA called for the elimination of tariffs and quotas on all the products the UK doesn’t produce. It says membership of the EU has hampered economic growth in Britain as it “prevents the UK from entering into its own free trade agreements with countries outside the EU.”
5. The report’s authors insist they are not calling to scrap regulation but instead seek to make it better. “The issue on regulation is ‘who decides?'” said David Davis at the event launch. “Under Chequers it’s the EU, under ‘free trade plus’ it’s us that decides.”
Whilst high profile Brexiteers like David Davis and Boris Johnson endorsed the report, Plan A+ provoked heavy scepticism from trade experts. Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform tweeted that the report “has not been thought through”, and that their response to EU non-cooperation was counter-intuitive to the vision of the report.
David Henig, the UK Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, said that the core of the project was pushing adopting US food standards, and that Plan A+ does not adequately explain why the UK should diverge from EU regulation despite their widespread use. Henig also argues that the report does not establish how damaging it would be for the UK to diverge.
The proposals follow a Business Insider report last week which revealed Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade was considering plans to scrap EU food standards in order to pursue trade deals with the US and other non-EU countries.
The thinking behind Plan A+
Alongside Singham was former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, and current Conservative MPs David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Theresa Villiers.
Stuart, who was MP for Birmingham Edgbaston until last year, said that a highlight of the report was Shanker and Tylecote’s strategic approach around the timing of Brexit.
Stuart said that in her experience in dealing with Barnier, everything always happens in the last 48 or 36 hours of the negotiation. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis echoed this sentiment, saying that the UK had not taken advantage of timings so far.
Davis said that if Plan A+ was the White Paper, he would still be in Government, and said that a free trade agreement was the best way forward for Theresa May.
Rees-Mogg said the plan was easily deliverable and claimed that the European Research Group – which he chairs – solved issues of the Irish border last week.
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