Campaigners say No Deal Brexit a ‘catastrophe’ for trade

Reverting to WTO trading terms following a No Deal Brexit could result in a standstill at Dover and costly tariffs, according to campaigners.

The wheel of No Deal fortune – Image: Keelan Balderson.

The Lincolnshire European Movement and Lincoln for a People’s Vote groups recently met with the public in Castle Square. Their interactive stall was designed to spark discussion about the possible outcomes for Brexit.

One outcome on their wheel of Brexit fortune was ‘NO Deal / WTO,’ referencing the World Trade Organisation trading terms that Britain would revert to if no agreements are in place before March 29.

What are WTO terms?

Richard Hall: Lincolnshire European Movement / Lincoln for a People’s Vote – Image: Keelan Balderson.
The WTO sets out the basic framework from which trade deals and tariffs on imports can be arranged between countries, but without favourable terms being agreed immediately, “a catastrophe could potentially hit this country”, according to campaign organiser Richard Hall.

He said: “There are 164 members of the WTO and there isn’t another country in the world that trades on WTO rules alone.

“We would have to default on tariffs for our goods that would push costs up – businesses would be in big trouble.”

Following MPs’ rejection of the Prime Minister’s deal, Downing Street has warned a No Deal Brexit is now more likely. Keelan Balderson spoke with Prof Ian Barnes, Head of International Partnerships at Lincoln International Business School, about the consequences this could have on Lincoln and the rest of the country. Listen to the interview below:

Tarrifs and Delays

As a member of the EU, British importers are charged low tariffs. After leaving, the automatic WTO tariffs could be much higher in certain sectors.

A recent parliamentary report on the impact of Brexit concluded that car imports would be charged at 10 per cent and car parts at 4.5 per cent. Within the EU the majority of car imports to the UK are not subject to tariffs at all.

Mr Hall also believes that a No Deal Brexit would bring the port of Dover to a standstill because “customs checks would be imposed at the borders”.

Earlier this month a House of Commons briefing paper suggested: “Delays caused by customs checks of trucks from the EU could cause a 17-mile queue”.

Why a People’s Vote?

“The People’s Vote campaign is designed to take the issue back to the country,” said Mr Hall.

“In 2016 when the vote was called there were two questions – do you want to remain in the EU or leave the EU? Nobody specified anything other than that,” he said.

“The argument is that people made the original decision based on little information. They should have the right to make another decision based on much more information that is now available to us.”

Lincoln voted to leave the European Union by 56.9 per cent. As a whole Lincolnshire was one of the highest leave counties, with Boston voting 75.6 per cent for Brexit Рthe highest of any town or city.