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Osborne warns of protectionist Brexit without alternative trade deal

By Andrew Schonberg

Date: Tuesday 28 Feb 2017

Osborne warns of protectionist Brexit without alternative trade deal

(ShareCast News) - UK's quitting the EU without an alternative trade deal would be the biggest single action of protectionism in the nation's history, warns former Chancellor George Osborne in London.
Osborne's tilt at Prime Minister Theresa May's rose-tinted Brexit plans is this third such launched by a Tory icon in the past week, and underscores the acrimonious mood within the party, which appears fractured along Bremain and Brexit battle lines.

The MP for Tatton said that even trade deals with other countries around the world would not offset the loss of trade resulting from a so-called hard Brexit when leaving the EU.

May plans to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March, beginning a two-year countdown to Brexit.

"Let's make sure that we go on doing trade with our biggest export market, otherwise withdrawing from the single market would be the biggest single act of protectionism in the history of United Kingdom," said Osborne.

"No amount of trade deals with New Zealand are going to replace the amount of trade we do with our European neighbours," he told the British Chambers of Commerce's annual conference in Westminster.

He added that in-out EU referendum in June last year had produced a clear mandate, but commented that in achieving such an outcome the "devil's going to be in the details".

Osborne said further clarity was required on issues surrounding Brexit, among them immigration.

His robust comments follow others made over the weekend by a senior Tory, Lord Heseltine, stated he would rebel against the government when peers debated the Brexit Bill, which was needed for Article 50 to be triggered.

Lord Heseltine said he would support an opposition amendment in the House of Lords that demanded MPs get a meaningful vote on any deal reached with the EU.

Separately, Sir John Major, the former Tory PM, said the probability of no agreement being reached between the UK and EU in Brexit talks was very high.

He laboured the "unreal and over-optimistic" vision of Brexit was being put forward, and opined that the costs would be both substantial and unpalatable.

Sir John said there was little chance the advantages UK enjoyed as part of the EU could be replicated outside the bloc.

"I have watched with growing concern as the British people have been led to expect a future that seems to be unreal and over-optimistic," he stated in a speech in London, the BBC reported

"Obstacles are brushed aside as of no consequence, whilst opportunities are inflated beyond any reasonable expectation of delivery."

Meantime, Downing Street claims the government is determined to make a success of the UK's departure from the EU.

(Additional reporting by Maryam Cockar in Westminster)

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