The Speaker
Thursday, 13 June 2024 – 07:14

Tusk suggests Canada-Style Brexit deal

European Council President, Donald Tusk, has said that the European Union is prepared to offer the UK a “Canada-plus” Brexit trade agreement.

He also demanded that the Conservatives “get down to business” as the Irish border issue is yet to be resolved.

After having talks in Brussels with Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr Tusk stated:

“The EU wants a relationship with the UK that is as close and special as possible. From the very beginning, the EU offer has been not just a Canada deal, but a Canada+++ deal. Much further-reaching on trade, on internal security and on foreign policy cooperation. This is a true measure of respect. And this offer remains in place. The EU is serious about getting the best possible deal. Even though we haven’t changed our minds that the consequences of Brexit will be negative, for both sides.”

The “Canada Plus” deal was in Boris Johnson’s view, the best way forward with regards to trade post-Brexit. 

Tusk’s intervention comes a couple of days after Theresa May  spoke at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham where she stated that Chequers was the one and only proposal which would solve the issue of the Irish border. 

Tories who do not support May’s controversial plan have backed Tusk’s suggestions.

Tusk also suggested that the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday only delayed the process of Brexit talks.

David Davis, ex-Brexit secretary who retired due to his disagreement of the Chequers plan, stated:

“This shows clearly that No 10’s claim that ‘there is no alternative to Chequers’ is just wrong. We could easily switch strategies to Canada+++ and deliver an outcome that is good for the UK, acceptable to Parliament, and negotiable with Brussels.”

In addition to this, Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group, stated that the “Canada +++” proposal would be a “good solution for everyone”.

On the other hand however, Sir Bernard Jenkin welcomed Tusk’s ideas but tweeted:

“EU must concede that Irish border issue is resolvable via checks away from border, not via backstop which threatens to divide UK.”

The Canada-Plus option refers to the trade deal between Canada and the EU where most trade tariffs on goods were removed in order to account for ‘preferential access’ of Canadian firms to the European market. Because Canada is not a member of the EU, it does not have to comply with or sign up for all EU regulations.

A Canada-style deal would allow the UK to be free to negotiate their own deals with other countries. However, it still remains unclear how this type of deal would solve the issue of the hard Irish border.

May has insisted that she will not agree with the “backstop” plan which was previously proposed by the EU. This proposal would have meant that Northern Ireland would still be a part of the customs union.

“Despite the UK Government’s rejection of the original EU backstop proposal we will not give up seeking a workable solution that fully respects the Good Friday Agreement as well as the integrity of the single market and customs union,” said Tusk.

During the conference on Thursday, Tusk also denounced Jeremy Hunt’s comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union.

In reference to this, Tusk stated:

“The Soviet Union was about prisons and gulags, borders and walls, violence against citizens and neighbours. The European Union is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace, life without fear, it is about democracy and pluralism – a continent without internal borders and walls. As the President of the European Council and someone who spent half his life in the Soviet bloc, I know what I am talking about.”

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