The government will pay its top post-Brexit international trade negotiator, tasked with sealing deals from North America to New Zealand, more than the prime minister, according to a job vacancy advertised on an internal civil service website. “Soft” Brexit campaigners say the £160,000 salary is a sign of the struggle the government is having in attracting the skilled staff it needs after decades of trade deals being handled from Brussels. In particular, there are fears the UK’s much-vaunted move to “the front of the queue” for a deal with the Trump administration will see inexperienced officials overwhelmed by tougher US counterparts.
Critics also think the salary is a waste of money for the first two years of the five-year contract because the UK will be unable to reach agreements until the terms of divorce from the EU are finalised in 2019.
The is another of the Remoaner, well, lies isn’t too strong a word, floating around out there. Akin to that Clegg/Mandelson one about having to charge WTO import duties.
We do not have the sovereign right to bring into action new trade deals while part of the European Union. That’s entirely true. But we’re entirely at liberty to discuss whatever we want with whomever between now and then. We are absolutely allowed to set up conditional treaties – on the day we leave we’ll sign this agreement, even we can, if we so wish, sign agreements now that say “this comes into effect the day we leave”.
Article 50 doesn’t stop us negotiating. The Treaty in general does stop us having different legal arrangements for trade until we have left.
Is that all clear now?