The concept of using GATT XXIV as an interim Brexit measure has been discussed quite a lot since the triggering of Article 50, with those who say we should go down that route being vilified for even mentioning it. So what is this GATT XXIV?


As more information comes out about what GATT XXIV offers, the clearer it becomes that this would be an eminently sensible route to take as we exit the European Union.

And this is something that the Tory leadership hopeful, Boris Johnson, is advocating.

The trouble is that the usual suspects, the Remain establishment, politicians and most of the press including of course the BBC, want to shut down any debate about GATT XXIV in case people cotton on to how useful it could be.

Using GATT XXIV would give us continued free trade for a period with no need for an Irish border, backstop while we sort our future relationship out. Doesn't that sound like just about the perfect Brexit and transition to you?

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was the precursor to the World Trade Organisation and it has an Article 24 that allows for free trade to continue as long as the parties concerned already have an agreement and also agree to go down the Article 24 route.

Now, Remainers say if we leave without a deal, by which I assume they mean the Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty, then we can't use GATT XXIV.

But we can, because all that is needed is a one page free trade agreement between the EU and the UK to get the ball rolling.

And I've left a link in the descriptions box below to a draft of what it could look like. This was put together by Dr Lorand Bartels of the University of Cambridge. A 585 page Withdrawal Agreement is not necessary.

Once that one page FTA is in place, then the work of sorting out our future UK/EU relationship can be dealt with in the next few years, with a top time limit I believe of ten years.

Now, what could be simpler than that, if you truly wanted to leave the EU? And why wouldn't the Eurocrats and EU27 sign up to such an arrangement, if they truly valued their own single market and customs union?

Much has been made recently of press interviews with the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney and the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, where they were 'encouraged' to label the Boris Johnson plan for using GATT XXIV as rubbish.

This has led six experts in the area of trade to put together a statement to rebut those claims that GATT XXIV is a busted flush.

Here we have Sir Richard Aikens, former member of the Court of Appeal, Professor David Blake from the Cass Business School, Dr TD Grant of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge, Dr Graham Gudgin of the Judge Business School, Cambridge, the economics commentator Dr Ruth Lea and professor Robert Tombs of St John's College, Cambridge all saying that those decrying the use of GATT XXIV:

"…are all being disingenuous. The plain fact is that Article 24 of the Gatt does permit tariff free trade to continue pending the conclusion of a full free-trade agreement."

And, after making their case in a couple of short paragraphs the six then:

"…challenge Mr Carney, Mr Fox, Mr Marr, the BBC and any other commentators to refute any of the above statements."

And writing in Brexit Central recently, Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith and former Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman, say that having talked to the EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, EU trade advisors and personnel, people on the EU Parliament International Trade Committee, as well as top WTO people and trade lawyers, their conclusion is that:

"GATT Article 24 is not only doable, it is desirable."

And one also assumes that because the one page initial FTA that would come into force on Brexit Day, is temporary and that the permanent future relationship would be negotiated after Brexit Day, then this would not fall foul of the legal requirements of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

So, why haven't we offered this up? Why have the UK and EU not already put this in place as the most simple and logical solution?

And the answer is obvious, because properly leaving the European Union is not the aim of either the UK establishment nor of the EU itself.


The facts about GATT Article 24 – and how it can deliver a Clean Managed Brexit by 31st October

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