Australia is offering Britain its first post Brexit free trade agreement. But will it make much difference to trade?
by Jeremy Warner
Tricky things, trade deals. The outcome of Britain’s referendum can be interpreted in two ways; either as a nation that is retreating in on itself, or to the contrary as one which constrained and imprisoned by the EU has determined to open itself up to the world even more.
If the UK is going to make an economic success of Brexit, it is vital that the second of these two interpretations prevails. Fortunately, this does indeed seem largely to be the new government’s intention, witness the likely unencumbered acquisition by a foreign company of the jewel in the crown of Britain’s technology sector, ARM, something that would be unimaginable in many other European countries.
Reconciling this approach with those who thought they were voting for a closed shop Britain – with those, in other words, whose vote to leave was a scream of protest against globalisation – is going to require considerable political skill.