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London's Brexit Strategy Looking 'Almost Like Hidden Trade War With Europe'

© REUTERS / Neil HallParticipants hold a British Union flag and an EU flag during a pro-EU referendum event at Parliament Square in London.
Participants hold a British Union flag and an EU flag during a pro-EU referendum event at Parliament Square in London. - Sputnik International
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that London will try to broker a free trade agreement with the European Union once the UK withdraws from the bloc, but Brussels is unlikely to accept this proposal since it resembles a "hidden trade war," Professor Panicos Demetriades told Sputnik.

"When it comes to the free trade agreement that she has talked about, basically there is some inconsistency there in the sense that we do want to have access to Europe and free trade with Europe, but we don't want to have the customs union agreement. We want to have our own external tariffs with the rest of the world. That seems like 'half in, half out' to me. And I am not sure at all that Europe will buy that," he said. "It's almost like a hidden trade war with Europe."

A person holds European country flags in an hand and a United Kingdom flag in another. - Sputnik International
Over Half of Britons Support UK Leaving EU Single Market - Poll
On Tuesday, Theresa May said that her government will try to achieve "the greatest possible access" to the European market by pursuing a "new comprehensive, bold and ambitious" free trade deal with the EU. The prime minister outlined a 12-point plan which will see the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest economy in the union divorce the EU in what has become known as the "hard Brexit."  

On June 23, 2016 the UK held a nationwide referendum, with the majority of voters opting to leave the European Union.

© Sputnik / Vitaly PodvitskiHard Brexit
Hard Brexit - Sputnik International
Hard Brexit

"The whole logic of having the common external tariff is that we agree how we trade with the rest of the world. So you can't really be in, trading freely with us, and then going and striking deals with the rest of the world," the analyst explained. "I just can't believe that Europe will buy that. And, yes, maybe we want that, but we are not likely to get it."

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in Trump Tower, Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 11, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Professor Demetriades, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus and a former member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, said that May's speech provided more clarity as to what Britain is trying to achieve.

"There is a bit more clarity now as to Britain's intentions. But I would like to underline intentions there. Intentions is what Britain wants, but the question marks still remains what Britain will get out of the negotiating process," he said.

Professor Demetriades further said that May has done "a good job" in terms of putting a "very good spin" on Brexit since she appeared to be in favor of free trade, but in fact sounded protectionist.

May gave "a trade war type of speech," he added, saying that what she meant was that the UK "will do what's best" for the country. "What if the others retaliate and do what's best for them? And then you retaliate again and do what's best for you. That's a trade war basically, right?" he observed.

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