LONDON — UKIP leader Paul Nuttall believes that Britain should negotiate new trade deals with countries around the world before leaving the EU, despite the fact that it would mean breaching treaties signed by the UK.
Nuttall, who is standing for UKIP in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election next month, told Business Insider in a sit-down interview that Theresa May should ignore the EU and begin work on trade arrangements with countries like President Trump’s USA.
“What are they [the EU] going to do? What are the repercussions going to be? They need us more than we need them,” the Merseysider told us on Wednesday afternoon.
“There are six million jobs on the continent dependent on British trade. We have a huge trading deficit. Germany sells us 800,000 cars a year. France sells us 39 million bottles of champagne.”
Leading EU figures like the Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, have told Britain that it is required by multilateral treaties to refrain from negotiating trade deals with other states until it has left the EU.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Friday that Britain would wait until leaving the EU before negotiating new trade arrangements. He said: “We will continue to abide by the rules and the regulations and the laws of the European Union as long as we are members.
“Of course, we want to strengthen our trade ties with the very many trade partners we have around the world, but we’re very mindful of our obligations under the treaty, and we will follow them precisely.”
However, Nuttall wants the government to take a much harder line with the EU.
Asked whether he thinks the 28-nation bloc would punish Britain for negotiating new trade deals before completing its formal exit, Nuttall said: “No. It ain’t gonna happen. They need us.”
He added: “Once we start signing those trade deals all over the globe, Britain will go through a new era of prosperity the like of which we haven’t seen since the industrial revolution.”
Nuttall is currently odds-on to win the Staffordshire constituency on February 23, which has been held by Labour since the beginning of the 20th century. Around 70% of voters in Stoke voted Brexit and support for Labour has declined in recent years amid dissatisfaction with the party in its working-class heartlands.
“This is the capital of Brexit and it can now become the capital of change if it votes UKIP on the 23rd of February,” the UKIP leader told Business Insider on Wednesday.
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