Philip Hammond believes Brexiteers should give up on their dreams of striking free-trade deals around the world after leaving the European Union because of their “very limited” economic value.
Setting out his own alternative plan to get Brexit done as talks continued to stall in Brussels, the former chancellor said that the UK should urge the EU to conclude a rapid-fire zero-tariff trade deal with Europe that would do away with the need for a backstop.
Mr Hammond – who argued for the UK to remain in a customs union during Theresa May’s government – accepted that his plan, if enacted, would rule out the prospect of the UK independently striking free trade deals.
If free trade deals have limited value then why should we have one with the EU?
And if they’re valuable, why should we be in a system that prevents us having them?