The European Union Trade and Cooperation Treaty: A Very Brief Review Reply

By Sean Gabb

I know that many of my friends have looked at the massive block of text that is the final agreement of our withdrawal from the European Union, and decided that we have been tricked again. My own preference would have been for a complete break, followed by unilateral free trade abroad and a libertarian revolution at home. However, I have taken the trouble to read the text—not, I accept, with the fullest attention: it is, after all, 1,246 pages long. There may be hidden traps that my reading has overlooked. Certainly, the reality of any agreement is less its wording than the approach the various sides take to implementing it. Even so, what my reading suggests is that this is somewhere between passingly acceptable and a diplomatic triumph.

We formally left the European Union at the end of last January. Next Thursday evening, the transitional arrangements will end that kept us inside the Single Market. On Friday morning, we shall find ourselves in a new set of arrangements agreed between a sovereign United Kingdom and an equally sovereign European Union.

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