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Here’s a nasty little lie somebody’s been putting about:

I hope you haven’t been gullible enough to believe it.

Chances are that you might have been fooled if you read Politico

… or The Express

… or listen to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

It refers to Article XXIV of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which you can read here.

The suggestion is that trading terms at the formation of a customs union between two territories, or during an interim period prior to the introduction of such a union, may not be higher than previously existed between those countries, and that there must be a plan to form a full customs union within “a reasonable length of time”.

How that translates into saying that the EU must offer the UK continued free trade for at least 10 years is anybody’s guess!

I think The Independent was right when it said the people coming forward with this nonsense had got it backwards:

“Trade experts say this covers the circumstances of two countries forming a new trade agreement, not of them leaving one. And they insist that those who cite it as a reason why nothing has to change on trade after Brexit are labouring under a gross misunderstanding of the rule.

“’The idea that Article XXIV…somehow obliges the EU to continue providing the full benefits of the single market for the next ten years, or even allows the UK to unilaterally offer the EU (and no one else) market access is preposterous,’ says Dmitry Grozoubinski, a former Australian trade negotiator.

“In any case the overriding concern of industry resulting from a no-deal Brexit is not actually tariffs but the negative impact of border checks resulting from leaving the EU’s customs union and single market.”

So if anybody tries to tell you that a “no deal” Brexit is no problem because free trade will continue, you tell them they’re either fatally weak-minded or a damned liar.

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