Existing agreements that deliver 12 per cent of the UK’s total trade will be lost if there is a no-deal Brexit, the government has admitted.
Trade agreements enjoyed with scores of other countries, through EU membership, will “cease to apply” if the UK crashes out of the EU next March.
The government said it would attempt to replicate the deals “as soon as possible thereafter” – but admitted those “third countries” would have leverage to demand better terms.
Until fresh agreements could be struck, exports and imports to these countries would fall under World Trade Organisation rules – and be subject to tariffs.
The admission came as the department for exiting the European Union (DExEU) released the final batch of technical papers, to prepare the public and businesses for a chaotic Brexit
The British Chamber of Commerce reacted immediately, urging the UK and EU to break the deadlock “as soon as possible, to avoid the confusion and significant disruption of a no deal scenario”.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.