British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said Saturday the U.K.’s trading relationship with the EU would remain largely unchanged after Brexit.
A day after EU leaders agreed that “sufficient progress” had been reached for Brexit talks to advance from divorce terms to the future relationship between London and Brussels, Hammond said the U.K. had already made undertakings that meant there would be little change on trade.
“We won’t technically or legally be in the customs union or the single market,” Hammond said in Beijing, according to the Financial Times. “But we’re committed as a result of the agreement we’ve made this week to creating an environment which will effectively recreate the status quo.”
Prime Minister Theresa May won rare praise from other EU leaders Friday for her tenacity in delivering sufficient guarantees on the rights of EU citizens, the Irish border and Britain’s bill to Europe. But pressure is now growing on May to spell out how she sees Britain’s future trade relationship with the bloc.
Hammond said his government would try to secure a close arrangement specific to Britain.
“We have a level of trade and commercial integration with the EU27 which is unlike the situation of any trade partner that the EU has ever done a trade deal with before,” he was quoted as saying. “So I expect that we will develop something that is neither the Canada model nor an EEA [European Economic Area] model, but something which draws on the strength of our existing relationship.”
Britain and the EU27 are now set to start discussing the terms of a post-Brexit transition period lasting about two years and the trading relationship. The European Commission is due to present its views on the transition next week.