Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen believes the EU has to afford the UK more leniency in Brexit trade talks, and that this could play into Mr Frost’s hands as he meets with Mr Barnier today. Today marks the first day of a five-day long negotiation between Brussels and London, and is also the first face to face meeting between Mr Barnier and Mr Frost since March. So far little progress has been made as deadlock persists over fisheries and regulatory alignment, even after Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission – earlier this month.
However, Mr Bridgen argues that the UK “holds the cards” in the negotiations, and highlights key advantages which could see Mr Frost best his EU counterparts.
Mr Bridgen told Express.co.uk: “Their Achilles’ heel – I said before the election, we would hold all the cards in these trade talks – the biggest card is that we are the purchaser.
“We buy a lot more from them than they do from us, therefore that’s a very good card – the tens of billions of pounds trade surplus they have with us.
“The other one is that we can do deals with the Americans, the Canadians, the Australians and the New Zealanders.
“If we haven’t got a deal with the EU we will be buying more goods from them.
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“17 percent of all EU exports currently go to the UK – you’d have thought they’d want to protect that market.”
According to Government statistics published earlier this month, the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner.
As highlighted by the report titled ‘Statistics on UK-EU trade’ – in 2019, UK exports to the EU were £300billion (43 percent of all UK exports) while UK imports from the EU were £372billion (51 percent of all UK imports).
The share of UK exports accounted for by the EU has generally fallen over time from 54 percent in 2002 to 43 percent in 2016, though this increased slightly to 45 percent in 2019.
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The share of UK imports accounted for by the EU fell from 58 percent in 2002 to 51 percent in 2019.
The UK had an overall trade deficit of -£72 billion with the EU in 2019.
On international trade deals, Mr Bridgen argued that the UK could even overtake the EU as the world’s trading powerhouse along with Commonwealth allies.
He said: “If we join the Trans Pacific Partnership, it will be a bigger trading bloc than the EU.
“And they aren’t asking to take our fish or be governed by their laws and courts.
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“If we had extended the transition period, that precludes us from doing trade deals with other countries who want to do a trade deal.
“America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – we will get all of those – and I’m confident we will get them very quickly.
“And also that ramps up the pressure on the EU, because when you are buying off someone you only need choice don’t you?”
Mr Bridgen also argued that a variety of industries across Europe will struggle without UK custom.
He added: “Car sales in Germany will take a hit, food from Spain and France – they will be badly hit.
“If we don’t get a free trade agreement, it could make it less likely that people go on holiday in Europe, so tourism could also take a hit.”