Stop Brexit blather and face reality on trade, says ex-EU ambassador

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Britain must face reality on post-Brexit trade rather than continue the “buccaneering blather” of hard Brexiters, the UK’s former chief EU diplomat Sir Ivan Rogers has said.

Rogers, the former chief Brussels adviser to both David Cameron and Theresa May, took aim at the prime minister’s Brexit strategy in a speech on Wednesday, but also criticised the plans of both hardline remainers and leavers, calling them “bluntly, delusional”.

In a thinly veiled attack on Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, and Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, Rogers said he despaired of “people professing themselves free traders who have only a hazy understanding about multilateral, regional and bilateral free trade deals, have never negotiated one – but know it’s straightforward, once one has left the EU.”

Rogers hinted there may still be a permanent deal to be done where the UK would drop some of its red lines in exchange for “quasi-single market membership, paying something for it, living under [European court of justice] jurisprudence and jurisdiction in goods, but disapplying the fourth fundamental freedom, free movement of people.”