LONDON — UK government ministers are not taking the concerns and advice of trade experts “as seriously” as they should on Brexit, a House of Lords committee have warned.
In a letter to Lord Bridges of the Department for Exiting the EU and Lord Price CVO of the Department for International Trade, peers Baroness Verma and Lord Whitty vent their frustration with the government’s “repetitive” and “disappointing” response to key questions about post-Brexit trade.
The letter, sent on March 27, opens: “Thank you for your letter of 28 February, responding to the report Brexit: the options for trade.
“Thank you for your letter of 28 February, responding to the report Brexit: the options for trade.
“The EU External Affairs and Internal Market Sub-Committees have considered your response to the conclusions and recommendations of the report. We are disappointed not to have received it until just before the debate in the House of Lords on 2 March, and at the quality of the document, which the Sub-Committees felt was often repetitive.
“A number of the responses did not address the issues raised by the Sub-Committees, and in other cases points were not addressed with the appropriate level of rigour and analysis. This suggests that the Government is not taking our concerns, or those of our expert witnesses, as seriously as it should.”
“This suggests that the Government is not taking our concerns, or those of our expert witnesses, as seriously as it should.”
In the letter, which you can read here, Baroness Verma and Lord Whitty ask the government to clear up the following key questions about the government’s Brexit plan and likely its implications for trade issues.
- Whether the government is considering a “time-limited transitional arrangement” to protect the economy once Britain has dropped out of the EU.
- Whether the government has ruled out the European Economic Arena (EEA) as a possible transitional model and highlights contradictory statements made by Minister for Exiting the European Union Lord Bridges on the matter.
- What the government actually means by “frictionless trade” and how it intends to achieve it in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
- It notes “disappointingly little detail” in the government’s response on how it plans to deal with the possibility of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
- Whether the government would be willing to accept oversight from a European court of other authority when disputes need to be resolved.
The letter invites both the trade and Brexit governmental departments to provide “examples” and “further information” in addition to the responses they provided in the response to the ‘Brexit: the options for trade’ report.
This letter will come as a huge concern to Parliament with Prime Minister Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday and enter Brexit negotiations with EU leaders in just a few weeks time.
Secretary for the Department for International Trade David Davis did little to restore MPs’ confidence in the government’s Brexit plan when he failed to answer numerous questions in front of the Brexit committee this month, including the question of how much it would cost Britain to have no deal in place at the end of Article 50 talks.
“I cannot quantify that in detail yet. I may well do in about a years’ time… you don’t need a piece of paper with numbers on it to have an economic assessment,” Davis said.
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