Britain can complete trade talks within two years, says UK's EU envoy

The UK can complete the negotiations for a new trading relationship with the EU inside the two-year Brexit timetable since UK and EU trading regulations are already in complete convergence, Sir Tim Barrow, the new UK envoy to the EU, has said.

He also said the EU had already “welcomed the clarity of the UK naming a date for the triggering of article 50”, saying the date was full square inside the government’s previously announced timetable.

Barrow, making his first extended appearance since taking over as UK envoy from Sir Ivan Rogers, said article 50 put the EU under a duty to negotiate not just the terms of the divorce, but also the future UK-EU trading relationship.

Barrow, in effect the UK’s chief day-to-day negotiator over the next few years, was speaking in front of the Commons EU scrutiny committee on the day Downing Street announced that the letter triggering the start of talks would be sent to Brussels on 29 March.

He said article 50 required the EU as a matter of law to take into account the future framework of UK-EU relations.

By contrast, many EU politicians have insisted the talks on the terms of the divorce must be fully complete before discussions can start on a future free trading relationship, a sequencing that would make it much harder for the UK to reach an agreement within the two-year timetable set out in article 50.

Both Barrow and Brexit minister David Jones pointed out that the chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the entire talks…

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