The following is a guest post by Roger Helmer. Roger was a MEP representing the East Midlands from 1999-2017, and is a former chairman of The Freedom Association.
We’re accustomed to hear Michel Barnier (and others in Brussels) insist that the UK can’t “cherry-pick” its trade agreement with the EU. It’s a term they seem to apply to anything short of total acceptance of the acquis communautaire, since almost by definition any agreement will address some issues and not others. Yet Monsieur Barnier is the biggest cherry-picker of them all. He has said he’d be prepared to offer the UK a Free Trade Deal (FTA) on goods, but not on services.
Well of course he would. The EU has a massive trade surplus in goods with the UK -- £95 billion in 2017, according to the Commons Library briefing. So free trade in goods is massively to Brussels’ advantage. On the other hand the UK has a much smaller surplus in services with the EU -- £28 billion. So an FTA in services would benefit Britain – but far less than the EU’s benefit on goods. Any sensible British negotiator might have said “OK – we’ll talk about an FTA covering goods and services, even though that’s a huge concession on our part, given Brussels’ overall trade surplus with the UK. But you can’t cherry-pick goods, which work in your favour, and exclude services, which work in our favour”.Read more