The U.K. government downplayed remarks attributed to a British diplomat that it could take 10 years to negotiate a final free-trade deal with the European Union after Brexit — and that even then it could fail.
The BBC reported that Ivan Rogers, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, had said most countries in the bloc expect a final free-trade agreement would not be struck until the mid-2020s. In a private briefing for Prime Minister Theresa May’s team in October, Rogers warned that even after a decade of talks, the deal could still be scuppered by any one of the EU’s 27 other national parliaments, which would have the power to ratify or reject it, according to the BBC report on Thursday.
“The comments of Ivan Rogers are taking words from interlocutors and this does not necessarily define how long it will take to create a trade deal,” U.K. Trade Minister Mark Garnier told lawmakers in Parliament’s lower house. “It is very, very difficult to establish how long any trade deal will take.”