Thursday 21 January 2016 12:00 am

EU referendum: New Civitas report says Britain does not benefit from being in the European Union trading bloc

Britain does not benefit from being part of the European Union when it comes to negotiating trade agreements, a leading think tank has said in a new report out today.

Civitas said that while it is assumed that the European Union provides “greater bargaining strength” than an independent Britain, new research shows that smaller countries outside of the EU have been more effective in securing global trade agreements.

In fact, the report’s author Michael Burrage argues that the UK has actually sacrificed many years of freer trade for its exporters of both goods and services by being an EU member state.

Lucy Thomas, deputy director of the pro-EU Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, said: “This is the latest in the baseless claims coming from Leave campaigners about what fantasy deals might be on the table if we leave Europe.

“If we look at what our major trade partners like the USA, India and China have said, all three have made clear that they value the UK remaining part of the EU. Indeed the US trade representative said they wouldn’t be prepared to deal with individual countries when it comes to negotiating free trade deals.”

But eurosceptics rejected Thomas’s comments. Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott said: “Pro-EU campaigners like to recite the myth that we only have clout in trade negotiations as part of the cumbersome EU, but this research blows that lie apart. It is clear that remaining in the EU is holding back our ability to trade globally.”