The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator last week made clear that a “non-regression clause” tying Britain to the EU’s regulation is a condition for a free-trade deal. For me, and for many others who voted to leave, this is an extremely worrying development.
As I argued throughout the Brexit campaign, the principal opportunity presented by the UK leaving the EU is the ability to sign trade deals with non-EU countries. This means being free from European regulation and being free from the bureaucracy that is symptomatic of the entire Brussels machine. The cosy club of Europe has made it more difficult to do business with the rest of the world for far too long.
For Michel Barnier to peg the UK to European regulation would, quite possibly, be the worst possible outcome of the negotiations. What the UK needs is to have strong trading relationships with other leading economies, not dictated by Europe. That is where the real growth opportunities lie.
The EU’s share of global trade is falling, and our share of exports going to the EU has dropped from 54pc to 43pc from 2006 to 2016. The likes of Brazil, Canada and Australia must be new predominant trading partners. And we must strike deals with our old friends, like India, the United States, and of course, the EU.
Being free to negotiate trade deals around the world without interference from the EU’s bureaucracy gives us a very clear advantage over our European neighbours. I have always been against meaningless bureaucracy and regulation, whether that be in business or in everyday life, and the red tape that is at the centre of European operations is the worst possible example of destructive bureaucracy.