Gatt 24 and free trade

The Governor of the Bank of England tells us we cannot escape tariffs by offering to negotiate a free  trade agreement. If the EU agrees to free trade talks as we leave the EU then we can.

Gatt is a Treaty designed to promote ever freer trade. Article 24 allows members of Gatt – now the WTO – to negotiate free trade agreements with each other that go further than the trade liberalisation and tariff reduction offered to all other members by the states concerned. The two states must not seek to raise barriers with others as a result of proposing a Free Trade Agreement between themselves. The aim   “should be to facilitate trade between the constituent territories and not to raise barriers to the trade of other contracting parties with such countries”

The only requirement to gain GATT approval for having no tariffs on each other’s trade whilst in negotiation is that the two states or customs unions must agree ” a plan and a schedule for the foundation of such a free trade area within a reasonable length of time”.

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  1. Pominoz
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    There is an excellent and very understandable article on GATT Article 24 by IDS and David Campbell Bannerman on Brexit Central posted yesterday which elaborates on your piece today.

    Well worth a read, particularly by those remainers who consistently claim on this site that the putrid WA must be approved before anything else can happen.

    • Andy
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:40 am | Permalink

      The EU have said no. Even by Brexiteers standards IDS and Campbell Bannerman are not very good at listening. But their piece is away with the fairies.

      They tell you a deal can be written on the back of an envelope. Remember their trump – Liam Fox specifically – said a deal with the EU would be the easiest in history.

      David Davis said he have trade deals 10 times the value of our agreements with the EU in place by Brexit day. He assumedly wanted to trade with the Klingons of something like that.

      I am not a trade expert. You are not a trade expert. But I listen to actual experts and you listen to a bunch of raging know-nothings.

      • libertarian
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink


        I’m a trade expert by virtue of the fact that I negotiate trade deals and trade and have done for nearly 30 years

        You spout nonsense

        • Andy
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Of course you have.

          PS: selling a few products overseas is not negotiating a trade deal.

          • jerry
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            @Andy; “selling a few products overseas is not negotiating a trade deal.”

            Of course it is! You are getting awfully mixed up, no surprise there though…

            Govts set the rules/laws, both domestic and intergovernmental.

            Businesses, that are not an extension of the State/govt (such as nationalised industry), negotiate trade deal.

      • jerry
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Andy; “The EU [read, EC] say no”

        Of course they do, all the time ill-informed people like you push a Remain agenda, demanding that a “No-deal” exit is taken off the table!

        Of course, the realities are going to be some what different, once the realities of a WTO exit sinks in, that the EU27 are going to have their domestic economies hung out to dry simply to protect the EC’s political project – the EU27 will demand a GATT24 agreement.

        Under GATT24 the two countries do not need a fully signed off trade deal, just a schedule to bring about a full FTA.

        • Pmwizard
          Posted June 23, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          But if you have a ‘no deal’ brexit and refuse to pay what the eu consider we owe, do you really think the eu will “agree” that “plan & schedule”?

          • jerry
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            @Pmwizard; Have you seen what the trade imbalance is between the EU27 and the UK?

            I agree that the EC will not want to trade under a GATT24 “understanding” but the EU27 will, as it will be their economies and industries that will suffer otherwise!

      • Jack Leaver
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Are these “actual experts” those that said the UK should join the Euro, predicted a vote to leave the EU would tip the economy into year-long recession with at least 500,000 UK jobs lost and 2016 Q3 growth between -0.1% and -1% (The Treasury), -0.3% GDP for Q3 (IMF) and a short term impact of -1.25% GDP (OECD)?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        If the EU really have said no then they should be shown up to the rest of the world for their destructive stupidity and intransigence. But to do that would need a UK Prime Minister who was prepared to publicly lay into them rather than always agree with them and lecture Parliament on their behalf.

        • Andy
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          It really is not the EU which looks intransigent and stupid to the rest of the world.

          That’d be you lot.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Why insist on putting an exit clause into your treaties but then be as awkward as possible if anybody tries to use it? It might well have better if we had followed the advice of those who said that we should not attempt that route.

          • NickC
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Andy, Even for you that is nonsense. You boast that it is the EU which is saying “No”. So it is the EU which is being intransigent.

          • Mike Paterson
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            Oh deary me, everything you post seems more a function of your Remoan brain rather than clear facts. You are part of the problem. You are irrelevant.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        I just read the piece by Messrs Duncan smith and campbell bannerman. Where do you think it is wrong?

        • Kenny Gray
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          In predicting the EU will bin the WA and start fresh talks. Not a chance, none at all

          • Pominoz
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

            You are correct. The EU will not bin the WA as it provides the absolute future control of the UK that it regards as essential to preserve the EU project. It is up to the UK to bin the WA and simply leave on WTO terms.

            Then the constructive talking can begin.

        • L Jones
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Don’t ask Andy difficult questions. It makes him/her froth and foam and speak of us as ”you lot” as usual, because he/she doesn’t know the answers. I wonder if he/she has read the Brexit Central article. I doubt it very much.
          Tiresomely juvenile, eh?

          • jerry
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            @L Jones; “I wonder if [@Andy] has read the Brexit Central article. I doubt it very much.”

            Well I haven’t, and I’m arguing for a GATT24 approach, on the other hand i have read article 24 of the GATT treaty…

            Citing ‘Brexit Central’ is akin to citing Wikipedia, but without the built-in checks and balances, only as good as the (last) author/editor.

      • G Wilson
        Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        They don’t just “tell you”. They literally provide the text of such an agreement.

        Why don’t remainers ever tell the truth?

    • StephenJ
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      The Brexit Party held a number of large political gatherings leading up to the recent EP election, and we were told during these proceedings that John Longworth and Richard Tice had been to the WTO to talk about this very subject.

      Still, good to see that even some Tory leavers have found out.

      Vote Tory, get Labour.

      • jerry
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        StephenJ WRONG, very wrong, non so blind as those who choose not to see…

        In both 2010 and 2017 the UKIP (now called TBP) vote almost caused a Labour govt, in fact your ‘Glorious Leader’ even boasted that ‘it was UKIP wot caused the coalition’.

        Vote UKIP/TBP get the Euro-fedralist Libdems in a coalition govt, fact!.

        • NickC
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, WRONG, very wrong, non so blind as those who choose not to see . . . .

          TBP is definitely not UKIP (or vice versa). Some UKIP people have gone over to TBP, but the vast majority of TBP supporters and voters are ex-Tory.

          Vote LibLabCon, get the same tired old cheating Remain government we’ve had for decades. Fact!

          • jerry
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 6:52 am | Permalink

            @NickC; “TBP is definitely not UKIP”

            Non so blind as those who choose not to see … the Emperor is stark naked!

            So lets examine some facts relating to TBP; Many of the same top people, much the same funding, almost all the same policies & the vast majority of UKIP supporters were also ex Tory.

            If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and loves water, it’s a duck, what ever the person trying to sell you a live Pheasant says!

            “Vote LibLabCon, get the same tired old cheating Remain government”

            Again, lets examine some facts; In 2010 such was the reduction in the Tory vote, due to UKIP, it lead to the most europhile, UK wide, party becoming part of govt within the 2010-15 coalition. In 2017 such was the reduction of the Tory vote due to UKIP that we were in danger of having a grand coalition which would have involved Labour, LibDems and the SNP,, the latter being a most Euro-federalist party.

            Vote UKIP/TBP, get a europhile, if not Euro-federalist, govt – a proven historical and statistical fact, what ever the UKIP/TBP propagandists tell their willing fools …sorry, supporters to repeat parrot fashion.

      • old salt
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Dare I suggest the LibDems rather than Labour?

    • agricola
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Yes Pominoz, a very clear explanation of Art24 of GATT by IDS &DCB. It remains for one or both of the Tory candidates to get behind it, discuss it with the EU, and then put it in place. The ball is the in the EU court. Is their response to be political or pragmatic. To all intents and purposes remain are just voices off from here on in. I would argue that a leave Cabinet have all the governing power they need to put such an agreement in place. A squabbling, vociferous Parliament are irrelevant for treaty change, and that is what it is, treaty change.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Indeed and the EU would clearly benefit hugely from having no tariffs so would surely agree to the plan and schedule. If the EU are just being stupid fine anyway. a sovereign UK can fairly easily work ways around the trade rules and tariffs. Business will adjust and find ways round it through subsidiaries and the likes. Businesses are used to finding ways round the idiocy of daft rules and regulations from government.

    • AlmostDead
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Subsidiaries are not the answer. In fact we should do the opposite and drop tariffs to zero on all goods. Buy are goods from the world, a sell what others wish to buy from us. Industries that can’t survive should be allowed to die

      • NickC
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Almost Dead, No, we should protect our vital industries with some higher tariffs. There is no such thing as global free trade because trade is used as a proxy for war by the likes of the EU and China. Now Trump is emulating them they squeal. I’ve had enough of China’s and the EU’s mercantilism. And so has Trump. When are we going to get a PM that puts the UK first, not the EU?

        • hans christian ivers
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:05 pm | Permalink


          Protectionism helps nobody and history confirms this, 1930s

          • NickC
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            Hans, So why is your EU so protectionist?

    • Pmwizard
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      For the EU allowing the UK to leave but retain most of the benefits of membership risks undermining the EU. But this would have no downside for the UK.
      From the EU point of view:
      No deal – bad for the economy
      Allow UK to continue trading as before – bad for the whole EU project

      From the UK point of view
      No deal – bad for the economy
      Allow UK to continue trading as before – happy days!

      This is why the EU appears intransigent
      The first option is loose-loose, the second is loose-win. Not a great Nadia for negotiation…

  3. pieterV
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    There is not going to be a FTA with the EU until the WA is ratified..the EU is not going to agree anything until that matter is settled..they have said so loud and clear..many times

    • Nicky Roberts
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Presumably they are saying that because we have not left. When and if we leave without a deal things will change. They appear to be happy to cut their nose off to spite their face, but again, they might have second thoughts about that. The WA is dead to the UK. They are flogging a dead horse.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      The WA is the same as the FTA that the EU would be prepared to agree once the WA were on our statue book. That is why the WA must never be presented to parliament again as it would lock us in permanently to EU control of our internal and external trade, our fishing and agricultural industries and for which we would be required to pay a substantial annual bounty ad infinitum. It would be politically easier for the EU to accept the fait accomplis of a total rejection of the WA than to be seen to give further concessions to facilitate its passage on both sides of the Channel.

      Once the EU have accepted that their WA is not going through, they would then have to consider how best to mitigate the damage to their trade with us after we have left the EU.

    • Mark
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      There isn’t going to be any sort of deal while the EU refuse to negotiate anything at all. Perhaps if they negotiated on trade it might help. Perhaps the only way to persuade them to negotiate is to leave first.

      • Kenny Gray
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Eh? A deal HAS been negotiated.

        • Edward2
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          The Withdrawal Agreement is not a deal Kenny.

    • David Price
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Personally I don’t want an FTA with the EU. It is not clear what we would gain from such an arrangement and there would be pressure and temptation for some politicians/civil servants to curry favour by being too generous with fishery resources or some such.

      I think it best we see how the EU behaves before offering them easy access to our internal market, we have already seen how vindictive the EU will be with Galileo. Better to focus first on agreements with countries who actually wish to trade and maintain friendly relations.

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Pieter V said: “There is not going to be a FTA with the EU until the WA is ratified . . .”. Good. We are not going to agree to the EU’s surrender terms, so the EU won’t agree an RTA. That’s just what I want, and have been advocating for over 6 years. And it shows the EU for what it is: nasty, unfriendly, bullying, arrogant, and obsessed with its own power.

    • Jiminyjim
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      If genuinely they’d prefer to wreck their own economies rather than do a sensible deal, don’t you think that at least you ought to be considering why?

  4. Mark B
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I do not care about the short term gains or losses of BREXIT. All I care about is living in an independent sovereign country able to act for and in its own interests and not have to kowtow or compromise with 27, often competing, interests.

    As I said only recently. Short term the EU have the advantage but, in the medium to long term it is the UK all the way that will be the winner.

    • hans christian ivers
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Mark B
      Interesting prediction the people of the 27 other EU countries wish to stay no mora than ever, so I am not sure they agree with your conclusions as they are based on likely emotions and not facts

      • NickC
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Hans, Can’t you read? Mark B writes about his own wishes, and his views for the prospects of the UK, not about the emotional commitment to the EU of you or the 27 other states populations.

      • L Jones
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Talking of facts – EU facts – have a read of facts4eu today. See how those 27 are doing.

  5. Andy
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood most of us, you included, are not experts on trade.

    The actual experts on trade say, almost without exception, that you are wrong.

    You have been wrong on just about everything else about Brexit.

    Why should we believe you? (Some of us don’t).

    • libertarian
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink


      Name these trade experts , tell us why those of us that actually do it are wrong

      By the way I’m an expert in a couple of fields so you must do everything I say as you wish to be controlled by experts

      • hans christian ivers
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


        Actually on this one I believe Andy is right, and your expertise on a number of subjects we have already tested in the past

        • NickC
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

          Hans, I have never known Andy to be right on anything, bar his own hate-filled opinions being a true reflection of his character.

          • hans christian ivers
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:06 pm | Permalink


            You are getting carried away again, calm down

          • NickC
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

            Hans, No, it is Andy who gets carried away with his hate-filled rhetoric about 17.4m angry far-right Tory pensioners who he eagerly anticipates dying off shortly. And you support that? If that’s where you want to be . . . .

            Whilst his foaming at the mouth is quite amusing, it confirms that you Remains have no arguments, relying only on an emotional EU nationalism. History shows that being committed to an ideology like that is extraordinarily dangerous.

        • L Jones
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps you and Andy should form a mutual admiration society and just listen to each other – that way you’ll be constantly gratified. You both think the EU is the best thing since sliced brot – but neither of you seem able to tell us why.
          You are both content with rubbishing people who live and work in the real world. You don’t like their input, while having nothing of value of your own.
          Surely it would be to your advantage to go and live and work in the EU (if you can find work, that is, many can’t) where your blinkered adulation might be appreciated.

    • SAP
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      How could we possibly wrong? Brexit hasn’t happened!

    • jerry
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      @Andy; “Why should we believe you? (Some of us don’t).”

      Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle!…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      So you think that when JR writes:

      “Gatt is a Treaty designed to promote ever freer trade.”

      he is wrong.

      Presumably you believe that the intention behind GATT/WTO has always been to put in place rules which will restrict international trade.

      And for example when the EU collectively, and all its member states individually, signed up to the WTO Trade Facilitation Treaty:

      their real purpose was not to facilitate trade, but rather to generate arbitrary and unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

      I wonder if you noticed my comment here:

      recalling that until recently the EU was trading with the rest of the world using a WTO schedule that was drawn up when it only had 15 member states?

      Of course a country can decide that it will “work to rule”, and not only object that some other country is failing to exactly comply with some WTO rule, and so press for it to change its ways, but go on to apply sanctions or even completely stop all trade with the offender.

      But in this case it seems that your beloved EU got away with gross breaches of the WTO rules for at least 14 years. What do you think about that, then?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        No answer, I see, as of yet.

  6. Dominic
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    We all know Carney is making it up as he goes along. That’s his brief. Keeping the UK tied to the EU requires the construction and telling of a series of lies, incitements and threats to create a general aura of negativity. It’s a tired strategy and now wearing very thin

    We’re sick of these games now. The next PM needs to replace every pro-EU placeman with our institutions with a pro-UK official whose function would be to promote and protect the interests of the UK rather than the interests of the German-Franco economic axis

    That means a Stalinist purge of an almost infinite number of British institutions starting with the BOE and the Civil Service. He can leave the BBC till last where revenge will be sweet.

    Bring back Whittingdale and tell him to take no prisoners

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      I agree, but I think we need a stronger person than Whittingdale. He could have sorted the BBC out whilst he had the chance, but balked at it.

      Whilst on that subject, I received an e-mail from Parliament: UK Governmanet and Parliament earlier today advising me that a debate into the bias of the BBC will be held on 15th July 2019

      I sincerely hope all Members of Parliament will wish to have their say!

  7. agricola
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Providing the EU are realistic and have the interests of their people and exporting industries to the fore, it can be done painlessly for all concerned. My fear is that the EU’s punishment agenda will take first place and that politics will get in the way.

    The only way is for our new government to place an FTA on goods and services before the EU on leaving on WTO terms. The EU then have two choices. Accept discussion of the FTA while an agreed invoking of Art 24 of GATT is in place, or to dismiss it. The latter would mean we trade on WTO terms in future. I cannot imagine national EU governments or their exporting industries remaining silent on the subject.

    At the very least the New UK government can say they have offered a pain free deal , but have been forced into a no deal scenario by the intransigence of the EU. Either way we are out, clear of commercial, political, financial, and ECJ control of a sovereign UK.

    I am waiting to hear what the two candidates for PM have to say on the subject. As previously suggested, an offer to them to lay out their wares in this diary, unadulterated by the media, would be most revealing.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I saw an interesting piece on Brexit Central earlier entitled ‘Three-year prison sentence for people who damage EU flag, German state proposes’

      ‘The German state of Saxony is set to criminalise the destruction of the EU flag, meaning those who damage the emblem could face up to three years behind bars. Anyone who attacks the blue and gold starred cloth displayed in public, rendering it “removed, destroyed, damaged, unusable or unrecognisable” could be slapped with a lengthy jail term or hefty fine.’ and ‘The proposed law will also protect the European anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy’.

      It gets more like a totalitarian state with each day that passes!

      I wonder if they propose to make it a criminal offence to use the EU flag as toilet paper?

      • Mitchel
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Ironic when the full title of Saxony is the “Free State of Saxony.”

      • Mark
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I am reminded that Ode to Joy was selected as the soundtrack music in the film A Clockwork Orange.

      • Doug Powell
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m coming from left field Tad, but it dovetails into your observations.

        At 15.25 this afternoon I was privileged to be in the garden when a Spitfire flew over, resplendent in the D-Day livery. I was reminded that the Spitfire was one of many reasons why German is not my first language!

        As for, “It gets more like a totalitarian state with each day that passes!” I can only say ‘What goes around, comes around!’ I won’t comment further on that, suffice to say, I’ll let each of you join up the dots on that one.

        What I will say is that the Spit was a reminder that we must not sell out on the supreme sacrifices of our gallant WW2 warriors! They fought that we might be free of the above! THANK YOU ALL!

      • L Jones
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps Andy could explain to you why this is a good idea and why this rag should be revered. He/she knows all the answers.

        Think what flags used to mean to people, what loyalty and devotion they inspired – but this star-spangled oddity is nothing but a spurious emblem of an organisation. Why should it be esteemed any more highly than an advertising ‘flag’ flying over a super store?

  8. John Scot
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    The Governor of the Bank of England tells us we cannot escape tariffs by offering to negotiate a free trade agreement, and he is one hundred per cent correct. Only if the EU agrees does this apply, and the EU has made it clear it has no intention of agreeing to anything unless and until the UK signs off the Withdrawal Agreement. End of story. Please stop misleading your readers (again).

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Another non-believer in the UK. Hopefully this will provide a foil to all the negativity:

      An extract:

      ‘They say: ‘The EU would never agree to it!’, ‘The EU would not be minded to do a deal if we leave on bad terms!’, ‘You can’t do it in a no-deal situation’ and ‘We’d have to levy tariffs not just on EU goods but all good from around the world’. This last point was made on Radio 4’s Today programme discussion of Article 24 yesterday morning.

      But these claims are wrong. We know they are wrong because collectively we have asked the EU: its Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, its trade advisers and personnel, and people David has worked with for ten years on the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament doing trade deals. And together we’ve asked very senior people at the WTO and top trade lawyers too, such as the impartial Article 24 expert Lorand Bartels of Cambridge University.

      Their conclusion: GATT Article 24 is not only doable, it is desirable. (see the article in full)

    • Mark
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      May I remind you that the EU and UK are Contracting Parties under the EEA Agreement, and bound to free trade in goods under Article 10. Until we withdraw from the EEA by giving proper notice under Article 127 that remains the case. The EU is also bound by TEU Article 3 (5) to promote free trade. So you are suggesting that the EU plan to breach their treaties.

      • NickC
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Mark, It is correct that the EU is (supposedly) bound by its own treaties to promote free trade, and be friendly to its neighbours. However we are only currently members of the EEA by virtue of being part of the EU. By abrogating the EU treaties (which is necessary to leave the EU) the UK will also cease to be signed up to the EEA agreement.

    • L Jones
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      If you truly believe that Sir John Redwood has set up this blog merely to ”mislead” people – then perhaps you’re in the wrong place. Go back to Facebook – it’s obviously more your level.

  9. Emily Jones
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    It’s just incredible! After all this time you STILL think it’s all about tariffs. You are fifty years out of date.

  10. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    IMHO, there would be no talks on free trade, before settling the divorce, i.e. the WA.
    A minority of English brexiteers against 27 European countries, not a strong suit.
    In terms of expertise, your minority (interpretation of Gatt 24) seems very tiny.

    • Timaction
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      IMHO. No honesty in any of your posts!

    • Andy
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      You need to read Article 50 again. The Withdrawal Agreement in its present form is as dead as a Dodo – the evil May tried not once, not twice but THREE times to obtain the consent of Parliament and Parliament refused. You Continental Europeans seem to be very stupid. If one side to an agreement says NO refusing to negotiate means you don’t want an agreement.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        The EU is scared what this might lead to. People right across the continent are now seeing the EU is indeed a failed project and their calls for change will increase in intensity. Where change doesn’t come (as with Cameron and his useless and futile attempt to make the EU listen) more and more will want out of it. And who could blame them.

      • Mark
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        It is also in breach of Article 50 (2), which requires that the Union negotiate and conclude an agreement. That means they must reach agreement with us, and negotiate until they have done so.

        • Kenny Gray
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          An agreement HAS been reached. Its the Uk parliament blocking it

          • Edward2
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 12:26 am | Permalink

            The Withdrawal Agreement is not a deal kenny.

      • hans christian ivers
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink


        What an unfortunate way of arguing by calling 400 million people stupid

        • NickC
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Hans, We are just copying your Remain tactics.

          • hans christian ivers
            Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:07 pm | Permalink


            Learn to put people in the right category

          • NickC
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

            Hans, Are you claiming not to be a Remain supporter?

  11. Al West
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    The leave argument in this is that the EU has no choice in ending GATT 24 should the UK wish to.

    The remain argument has been that it requires EU consent that they won’t give ( WA being only deal in town).

    Your post seems to concur with the remain / governor’s position.

    So if no deal happens then GATT 24 would not kick in.

    What do you think the impact would be on the Tory party should no deal happen without GATT 24?

  12. Al West
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that Malthouse is more beneficial to the EU than GATT 24.

    And that either agreement requires EU consent.

    Why then do you think that the EU will sign up to a deal that is less beneficial than one that they have already rejected?
    Reply They did not reject Malthouse 1 or 2 (2 is Gatt 24 anyway) because Mrs May refused to table them

    • hans christian ivers
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Sir JR,


      They did not reject them as there is form the point of view of the EU on this matter nothing to negotiate about as Paragraph 24 des not apply

      • NickC
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Hans, Paragraph 24?? You just don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?

        • hans christian ivers
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

          Nick C
          More thank you thank you for this valuable contribution

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Let us hope Boris and Hunt are completely up to speed on all aspects of WTO including GATT 24.
    Then at least we may at least stand a chance of moving in the right direction, and moving forward fast so that business no longer is in limbo and can plan for future investment.

  14. Butties
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    In further clarification the ‘reasonable length of time’ under Art 24 is defined as ;

    ” The “reasonable length of time” referred to in paragraph 5(c) of Article XXIV should exceed 10 years only in exceptional cases.”

    So if the EU really want a Free Trade Agreement then there is plenty of transition time to agree one. Either way we leave on 31st October on WTO terms and whether the EU start paying tarrifs on their huge trade surplus with the UK is up to them.

  15. Richard1
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It seems inconceivable that the WTO, which exists to promote free trade, is going to insist on EU-UK tariffs in the event both sides say they want to work towards an FTA.

    • Keiron
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      The EU is saying it does NOT want to work tiwards anything – until the UK accepts Mrs Mays deal. As it eventually will

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        What makes you so sure the UK will accept May’s deal? A wholly discredited ploy by a useless politician to keep us in the EU by chicanery. No thanks!

      • NickC
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Keiron, Mrs May did not negotiate a trade deal. She swallowed a surrender document dictated by the EU.

  16. Dave Andrews
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    With the differing views on Gatt 24, it would seem it is open to interpretation. That being the case, if the UK and EU agree to invoke it to facilitate post Brexit trade, who is going to complain?
    Not the UK or EU, who have agreed the course of action.
    Not the WTO, because we are acting in the interest of liberalising trade.
    Other countries perhaps? But then we could keep them sweet by suggesting negotiations with them as well on free trade.
    Only the Remainers it would seem, who want to frustrate our exit any way they can, but then in this context they have no grounds to complain.

    • Kenny Gray
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      The EU finished talking months ago, how can you not understand that? Leave with no deal or sign the Withdrawal Agreement, they are your only choices. No more talks – the EU has said that 100 times

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        I see the duty remainer trolls are out in force again.

        Having finally got rid of a closet remainer PM who lied through her teeth and tried her best to sell us down the river in the worst traditions of many of her predecessors, we now have a different ball game. The WA agreement that would have kept us hog-tied is dead. Who the hell are the EU to demand what we must and must not do?

        Ever heard of the term, ‘get stuffed’? They are not in a position to dictate terms to us. This is indicative of a kind of collective brain-washing when people cannot see anything but the EU. Oh the EU says this, or the EU says that, therefore we must accept it. Like hell we do! I seem to recall somebody else tried to dictate terms to us nearly 80 years ago, and look how that turned out! We didn’t stand for it then, and we won’t stand for it now!

        Rule Britannia!

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Is 7 years “a reasonable length of time”? That’s how long it took for the EU/Canada deal to be agreed. We have to face the fact the a Union of 27 Member States, all of whom have to agree, is about as nimble as a constipated elephant. I think that we should be aiming for a series of interim agreements with the EU, starting with one to take effect on 31st October – possibly WTO rules but with tariff free trade both ways in car and aircraft parts.

    It is absolutely essential that we tell the EC that the draft Withdrawal Agreement is as dead as the dodo – bin it, lock, stock and barrel. We can specify arrangements for the Irish border, for residential rights and the size of our exit payments. Those are the only things that the EC want clarity on before trade negotiations.

  18. Iain Moore
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The BBC was baging on about it yesterday, thinking they had done serious damage to the plan to enact Gatt 24. Their argument going along the lines of, if you go No Deal you can’t have Gatt 24, which was a somewhat ridiculous claim for to turn it on its head and have a deal, then why would the heck would you want Gatt 24? The fact is, against the BBC’s assertion No Deal is wholly consistent with Gatt 24 , for the path is No Deal, start free trade negotiations, and enact Gatt 24.

    I suppose this lame attempt by the BBC is a product of their failure to get Boris Johnson to say that he would ‘guarantee’ his Brexit plan , which would have then led to the inevitable gotcha line of questioning where they say you can’t guarantee what the other party to the negotiations would do, so they go with their threadbare attempt to say you can’t have No Deal with Gatt 24, when its the only way to enact it.

    • Jagman84
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      The No-deal issue seems to be a point of extreme confusion. Some interpret it as as leaving with no trade deal between the UK and EU but others indicate the political WA as the ‘deal’. A WTO exit is mandatory in the former, unless the EU rolls back on it’s insistence of no talks until the UK exits. Ratifying the WA would render trade talks unnecessary as the UK would enter colony status within the EU. Rule takers but with no say in their formulation.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      15th July, a debate in parliament on the BBC’s bias. Make sure everyone writes to their MPs with instances of the BBC’s shoddy journalism.

      You never know, with a heightened public focus, MPs might be willing to step up to the mark and do the bidding of their constituents and place their protestations on record. Stranger things have happened.

  19. ChrisS
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    This will be crunch time for the future relationship. If the EU is serious about wanting a future trade relationship with the UK, they will agree to the use of GATT24.

    However I suspect they will not. Macron in particular is very anti the UK and so far, Merkel has certainly been more interested in preserving the integrity of her precious single market than the health of her car industry for which we are the largest customer for cars actually built in Germany.

    The 27 are likely to continue to play hardball in the hope of reversing Brexit altogether.
    I fear that this may well be the best strategy for them : They know that unless the next PM accepts and can convince Parliament to leave the EU under WTO terms, we are likely to have no choice other than to accept the discredited WA almost unchanged or to revoke A50.

    Unless he can leave on WTO terms on 31st October, any other outcome is likely to lead to a General Election before which an electoral pact with Nigel Farage will be essential if there is to be any chance of a majority in Parliament in favour of leaving without a deal. If the current parliament votes to revoke A50 or the forces of Leave lose the election, the outcome would be the same : Brexit will be dead and the Remainers will have won.

    There is all to play for.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      ‘Macron in particular is very anti the UK’

      I would gently whisper in his ear ‘Think of all French farmers who sell their produce in the UK. Could you really put up with those people rioting every week as well as le gilet juane?’

      As for Merkel and the German car industry, I think the latter are already whispering in her earhole! They are worried witless, and have one hell of a lot of clout. They want to build the cars the UK wants to buy, and the German economy needs the sales or it might tip into recession. I’d say the foot-dragging ‘dog-in-a-manger’ EU needs to get its finger out pretty damned quick and give us a good deal!

      • Chris S
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        I quite agree, Tad, but I believe they are more frightened of the consequences of The UK being seen to succeed outside the bloc than the likely damage to their own economies by refusing to negotiate a deal in our mutual interests

        Add the insufferable arrogance that eminates from every pore of Brussels and we can see why they are making negotiations so difficult in order to punish us for having the cheek to leave.

        If the 27 don’t change their attitude, Macron is very likely to see tonnes of the proverbial dumped around the centre of Paris but he’s not thinking that far ahead.

        As far as he and Merkel are concerned, Keeping the Franco-German Axis in control of Europe is the only thing that counts.

        • Chris S
          Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          PS. I’ve never thought they would give us any kind of deal worth having. May should have walked as soon as they insisted on the Phasing of the negotiations.

          She has wasted 30 months on fruitless talks failing to prepare for leaving on WTO terms

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Once again maybe the EU does not mind a future relationship if the price is right. But it does not need one and the UK does. How much clearer can you get?

      • Chris S
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        As I said, Rien, I never thought there would be a deal worth having.

        Thanks to exchange rate movements, our goods sold in Europe have already fallen in price by more than the tarrifs that would be imposed without a deal.

        By contrast, German cars are already at least 15% more expensive for the same reason and will suffer an additional 10% tarrif unless there is a deal.

        Tell me whose trade is going to suffer most without a joint GATT 24 agreement after we leave ?

      • NickC
        Posted June 23, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Rien, The WTO global trading framework is a “deal”, and a “future relationship” too. EU-UK trade will continue under WTO rules. The UK does not need an RTA with the EU for trade to continue, or at all. It just isn’t worth jumping through the EU’s hoops any more. How much clearer can you get?

    • Paul Goldschmidt
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      For both sides!

  20. Charles Crane
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    So hopefully the new PM will immediately table a free trade agreement based on the EU already signed with Canada and – PPPOOOOFFFF! No backstop needed. Magic!

    Of course May could have done this way back when. The ultimate lever is that unless they agree to enter into negotiations on FTA then no 39 billion. The only possible way to justify such a payment is to get a FTA in return…

    • Paul Goldschmidt
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Except that the 39 billion is not a “price” for an FTA but a mutually agreed amount of the debts owed by the UK to the EU (undrawn amounts of budget commitments for past years which have been agreed by the UK). By withholding payement the UK will be subject to a “recovery” procedure which a) will severely blemish the standing of the country in world markets and hurt significantly the City and the country’s access to world financial markets and b) will postpone any negotiation of an FTA with the EU until the matter is resolved which could be years if the UK does not throw in the towel before having done unnecessary and possibly irreversible harm to its international standing. As far as the EU is concerned, withholding the payement is a totally empty threat.

  21. Simon
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I do not know what all these GATT XXIV folk are on about.

    The Government published the No Deal tariff schedule in March already. And tariff free it ain’t.

    Both Celia Malstrom and Mark Carney have made clear that GATT XXIV can not be used in the way the Ultras keep claiming.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Maybe the regular contributors to this blog are better read than you remainers which is why they have a better grasp. And I resent the use of the word ‘Ultra’ in this context. It implies people who are essentially Nazi in their beliefs. I doubt if there is such a person who reads these pages.

    • Edward2
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      There are tariffs now Simon.
      If you buy or sell goods around the world you would realise that there are many nations that have tariffs added on the goods they export.
      Including goods imported into Europe and UK.

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Simon, Have you read GATT Article 24 yourself? If not, why comment? GATT Art24 is precisely used to continue existing trading arrangements whilst a free trade agreement (an RTA registered at the WTO) is reached. All that is initially required is that both parties agree to start the talks. The EU may not do so, but that is not the result of anything in GATT Art24, but the EU’s own choice.

      • hans christian ivers
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:09 pm | Permalink


        That is actually not how it works, but try again

        • NickC
          Posted June 23, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          Hans, You don’t get to decide by fiat, you have to provide evidence. You would have to back up your claims by citing parts of GATT Art24 and the explanations. The fact that can’t shows your view to be mere uninformed opinion.

          • hans christian ivers
            Posted June 23, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            Nick C

            Read on

  22. CJ
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Does the EU really want commercial suicide?

    EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström
    “For us, trade is something where both sides win.”

    EU ‘High Representative’ (foreign secretary), Federica Mogherini
    If you apply a confrontational approach to trade for example, it is easy to see where it would lead. Protectionism, and no willingness to compromise, can easily spark a trade war. Let me quote again President Xi, who said it very wisely: “No one would emerge as a winner in a trade war.” These are very wise words that should make us all reflect. It would only cut opportunities for our companies and slow down growth in all our countries. We would all lose.

  23. CJ
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    EU trade policy summarised on Commission website
    “The EU is firmly committed to the promotion of open and fair trade with all its trading partners.”

    European Commission, DG Trade, Management Plan, 2015
    “DG Trade is committed to liberalising world trade”
    “Bilateral free trade negotiations will remain the core of our work.”…
    “The EU’s success in Europe is inextricably bound to the success of our trading partners”

    EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström speech, Singapore 2017
    Free trade, fair trade is not just a slogan for Europe; it is in our DNA, since our foundation in 1957, I think that is very much in your DNA as well. Our society and economy are fundamentally open, and rely on openness for their survival.

    • Chris S
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Plainly this is pure bullshit from start to finish.
      As far as third parties are concerned, The EU is protectionist to the core.

      • Paul Goldschmidt
        Posted June 23, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        The EU is far less protectionniste than the USA or China though it is absolutely right to defend the interests of its single market Members. It has more FTAs with third countries than any other entity of which the UK benefitted as a Member on top of free access to the 500million single market championed by no other that Margaret Thatcher. Throwing that out of the window needs careful thought rather than blustering that the UK will teach the EU a lesson!

  24. ian
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    If they want an economic war with the world let the EU have one, show them how the single market really works, cut them off.

  25. ian
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Oh i forgot, anybody who is anybody is in the EU pocket already, leaving the people England defenceless.

  26. BR
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    That is also my understanding of GATT, WTO and Article XXIV.

    So why is it that our politics is so broken that we cannot get even this simple fact out there, understood and accepted by all?

  27. BillM
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Someone in Government or in the Treasury should advise Carney that he does not know what he is talking about so he had better cease the preaching of is phoney EU rhetoric. It’s embarrassing the remainers in Parliament..

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Many of our problems during the negotiations with the EU have stemmed from the fact that our Prime Minister has been on their side as well as ours. Maybe more on their side than on ours, maybe the other way round, but for sure she has never at any time been wholly on our side. If she had been then for example she would not have lectured MPs about the EU being unable to negotiate a trade deal with us until we had left, an obvious piece of nonsense they devised to give themselves an advantage during negotiations. Even if she had to accept that they would not depart from that absurd position she could have made it clear to the world at large that she thought it was absurd – “If that is EU law, then EU law is an ass” – and typical of the chronic silliness of the EU which had led the British people to vote to get out of it and take back control. But, no, she not only agreed with the EU over that, she even publicly let MPs know that she agreed with it.

    • Paul Goldschmidt
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      So even if you think that it is silly not to agree to discuss future trade before the UK left, there is nothing you can do about it except cry! The obvious reason for the EU’s position is that it was not going to agree to negotiate as long as the UK had the unilateral right to cancel Art.50 giving the UK a negotiating advantage it wished to keep for itself. Can you blame them?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 23, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Of course there was something Theresa May could have done about it; that is why we pay for our ambassadors and other representatives around the world, to put our case before what is known as the international community. Instead she chose to not only cave in but take the side of the EU against us.

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Once again it is not permissible to tell the truth about the Irish border.

  30. hans christian ivers
    Posted June 22, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Sir JR,

    This continued use of GATT paragraph 24 as a way out of no deal will really have to stop, as it makes absolutely no sense nor is it a realistic way out of a no deal scenario as it does not apply in this situation.

    “Britain cannot continue trading with the EU-27 on previliged terms , as most favoured nation principle obliges WTO members to grant the same previliged terms , to grant the same concessions equally to all trading partners. The exemptions from the MFN principle in Article 24 GATT regarding custom unions and free trade agreements will not apply in case of a no deal Brexit. (source LSE 2018). We will therefore have to grant the same prviliges to NEw Zeland as to Belgium. This will according to the LSE cost our industry a minimum of “.5% of GDP or more.

    • Edward2
      Posted June 22, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      The UK has never asked for “privileged terms” hans.
      If the EU decides to prefer tariffs instead of a free trade arrangement with the UK then expect the UK to add tariffs on EU imports to match the EU ones.

  31. Original Richard
    Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    It seems to be forgotten with all the discussions about our trading terms with the EU the far more important issues of democracy and sovereignty.

    Firstly the world is watching to see if we really do live in a democracy or whether our pro-EU Parliament will thwart the decision made by the people in both a referendum and then by a GE to leave the EU.

    Secondly whether a pro-EU parliament will succumb to the threats of a few foreign owned companies to close their UK operations and sign a treaty with the EU which leaves the UK as a colony of the EU where we accept EU laws, budgets, taxes, fines and policies (trade, energy, environment, foreign, immigration etc) but without representation or veto and with no lawful means of exit.

    A tiny price to pay, if it happens, for our freedom, democracy and sovereignty.

  32. Paul Goldschmidt
    Posted June 23, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    John Redwood’s reading of Art 24 is biased. The facts he describes are correct and include the agreement of the EU to “open” trade negotiations in order to benefit from the temporary prolongation of the existing situation.

    There are two facts he overlooks: first as of an exit at 11pm on October 31st, the “existing situation” will be that the UK is a third country with which there is no agreement (except WTO rules) to prolong so tarifs applicable to third countries come immediately into operation.

    Second the EU will not agree to open such negotiations before the UK agrees to all the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement in particular paying what is owed and the Irish backstop.

    The only difference and it is a significant one for the UK is that there will be no transition period during the negotiations which are expected to take several years!

    So, as the EU has already stated the UK will and must be treated as a third country from the moment a “no deal” exit comes into force.

    • CJ
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Bit of a sweeping comment. You assume that the EU Withdrawal Agreement is legal – that the Attorney General has declined to release his full opinion speaks volumes. (remember the ‘contempt of parliament’ saga, not that the Speaker has exactly stood up for the rights of MPs to make an informed decision.) The Backstop is particularly dubious as it undermines the Good Friday Agreement.

      It is dangerous to assume that because the UK becomes ‘a third country’, massive restrictions will automatically occur. The EU has to abide by wider WTO Agreement obligations which take precedence over the operation of a customs union if there’s a clash. (cf Annex 1A agreements vs earlier GATT provisions)

      In particular, the Technical Barriers to Trade agreement would provide protection.
      The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (the “TBT Agreement”) entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995. It aims to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

      I think that Mr Redwood has got it spot on about the overriding ethos not to raise unnecessary barriers to trade. The WTO has had to bring the EU into line for failing to observe WTO rules.

    • Edward2
      Posted June 24, 2019 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      Japan traded like this for the last 40 years until a recent trade deal was signed.
      Notice any shortages of Japanese goods in Europe or UK in that time Paul?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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