UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Tuesday that negotiating new trade deals after a possible British exit from the European Union could take twice as long as the Second World War.
Giving a speech at the foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House, Hammond said what pro-Brexit campaigners say just will bring to the UK “years of uncertainty.”
Hammond also clarified that he does not agree with Chris Grayling, a fellow minister who supports Brexit on that Britain could quickly negotiate new trade deals with individual EU member states.
“It might well take more than twice as long as the fighting the Second World War,” he said.
“If you look at the history of trade agreements including [World Trade Organization] agreements, eight years is a relatively concise timetable for negotiating trade agreements. Simple fact,” Hammond continued.
“We’re going to have 27 nations, all with their own internal political discussions, all with their own concerns about their own Eurosceptics, all with their own industries to protect, and I would expect them all to pursue their national interest aggressively in that negotiation.”
“They won’t owe us any favors and we shouldn’t expect any favors,” Hammond added.
He said Britain’s access to Europe’s single market would cease if it left the 28-country bloc.
“Our trading agreements with more than 50 countries around the world would lapse with an immediate and negative effect on confidence, on growth, on investments and on jobs. Years of uncertainty for Britain just as we’re getting back on our feet,” he said.