Britain risks being “pushed over a cliff” with a bad Brexit deal unless it insists on negotiating independent trade agreements now, prominent Leave campaigner Lord Owen is warning.
The former SDP leader is also using a speech in Switzerland on Thursday to say the Government should carry over all EU law into UK domestic law, and make provisions to forge its own trade deals in the process.
“The UK has to be able to start negotiating international trade agreements before exit. This is a non-negotiable issue. So is the UK having full World Trade Organisation membership in our own right.
“To fail to have these two issues put into operation and sanctioned under UK law in the European Communities Act legislation would be gross negligence.
“Under any of the options for negotiating we must have these safeguards, or we otherwise face being pushed over a cliff edge after waiting for an EU decision in 2018-9 which might prove to be unacceptable,” he said.
Lord Owen is insisting that if the EU blocks British trade negotiations with non-EU members, the Government should refuse to exit under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but instead use the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties to withdraw.
The peer is calling on the Government to switch EU law into British legislation.
“The Government will introduce UK legislation on the European Communities Act 1972. If they are wise through one clause they will carry over all EU law into UK domestic law.
“That means at the outset of the negotiating process nothing will change. There will be a political commitment to not make any changes in the European Economic Area Treaty on trading and Customs Union issues without the agreement of the EU Council of Heads of Government prior to the exit procedure being put in place.”