Britain’s ambassador to the EU has privately told the Government a trade deal after Brexit might take a decade to complete, the BBC reports.
Sir Ivan Rogers warned that rejections from national Parliaments across the EU meant that a deal, which was unlikely to finish until the early to mid-2020s anyway, may still fail.
Rogers, who conducted EU negotiations for David Cameron, is said by the BBC to have warned ministers in October that the other 27 member states in the EU believed an agreement could take ten years and might not survive the process of ratification by each country.
The BBC understands that Rogers suggested to ministers a free trade deal was a more likely outcome than continued membership of the single market.
Number 10 said Rogers was discussing the position of other EU member states, not the Government’s opinion, which is still that a deal can be done in two years after Article 50 is invoked.
A spokesman told the BBC: “It is wrong to suggest this was advice from our ambassador to the EU. Like all ambassadors, part of his role is to report the views of others.”
Dominic Raab, a former minister and a Leave campaigner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: “It’s reasonable to set out the worst case scenario for a five to ten year period to iron out a trade deal. The key thing is whether we maintain barrier free trade in the meantime in which case frankly there’s no problem – we leave the EU in two years we complete the free trade agreement afterwards.”