The UK should be able to retain “virtually all” of its current trade arrangements with the EU, according to Treasury Select Committee member and Brexit campaigner Steve Baker.
Speaking to City A.M. at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Baker said the UK would be boosted by a raft of elections across Europe in the next two years, with politicians set to face domestic pressure to secure partnership with the UK in goods trade.
As a result, Baker said that while the exact nature of the City's relationship with Europe remains uncertain, tariff free trade on goods is likely.
"The European Commission are the ones who are most detached from political pressures, but for national politicians, it is in their interests to give us a unique British deal with the very maximum of free trade,” Baker said, adding that while officials publicly insist there can no informal talks ahead of Brexit, both British and European officials are already doing just that.
“It is happening all the time,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, Institute of Economic Affairs head of public policy Ryan Bourne said the UK appears unlikely to remain within the European Economic Area, an option mooted by some as “the Norway model”.
“Many people think that would now be used to keep us in the EU,” he said. “But it doesn't give us control over borders or regulation.”
Instead he predicted a model of “clean Brexit” that included a unilateral offer of free trade from the UK going to the EU, a plan previously suggested by Tory backbenchers including John Redwood.