British firms could be left with major hurdles to trading with the US after Brexit, with a new study claiming "dozens" of agreements could be lost.
Research on behalf of anti-Brexit group Open Britain claims at least 19 deals between the EU and US cover economic issues that could put the UK at risk if not addressed during ongoing negotiations. However, the UK is barred from entering trade negotiations while it is still a member of the trading bloc.
Those deals include the Open Skies agreement - which Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has already warned repeatedly over - mutual recognition agreements on regulation covering sectors including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and marine equipment and cooperation between European and US customs authorities.
Food safety and animal welfare standards and restrictions on anti-competitive practices, for example in the aerospace industry, are also at risk.
Open Britain called on government to explain its post-Brexit plan to retain these agreements and demanded guarantees that any new trade deal with the United States will not result in worse terms in these areas.
It questioned what, if any, contingency planning had been carried out, and whether it was able to estimate the economic cost if the UK does fall out of these agreements.
Pat McFadden MP, a supporter of Open Britain, said: “Before the Government cosies up any closer to President Trump in its desperation to get a trade deal with the United States, we should secure the agreements we already have with them through our membership of the European Union.
“If we do not retain these agreements after Brexit, the consequences for the British economy will be dire in sectors from aviation to agriculture. We all want Britain to have the freest trade possible with the United States, so long as doing so does not compromise our workers’ rights, consumer protection and environmental standards.
“If things are going as well with the United States as ministers claim, then they should be able to get an immediate agreement from their American counterparts that all of these arrangements will be retained until a new trade deal is agreed and not watered down if one ever materialises.”