U.K. Starts to Drop ‘Crazier’ Brexit Ideas, EU’s Hogan Says

  • U.K. plan to strike trade deals outside EU is “fanciful”
  • ‘Looney’ voices on Brexit still remain, EU Commissioner says

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The U.K. is moving away from some of “crazier ideas” around leaving the European Union, according to the bloc’s top agriculture official, Phil Hogan, as “the worst of the Brexit triumphalism appears to have abated.”

While there are “still looney voices on the right of the Tory party and in the Tory press,” the implications and costs of a so-called hard Brexit are “being understood better and more widely,”  EU Agriculture Commissioner Hogan said in a speech released in Dublin on Monday.

Phil Hogan

Photographer: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Hogan’s comments come before of a summit this weekend where the EU is expected to agree its plan for negotiating with the U.K. on how that country extricates itself from the union. Last week, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the U.K. and EU positions on some negotiating issues are softening.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to strike trade agreements with countries beyond the EU is “based on notions of an Empire 2.0” and is “somewhat fanciful when you look at the trade offs the U.K. would have to submit to in order to do deals around the world,” Hogan said.

“Currently, at least, some of the crazier ideas about crashing out of the EU without a deal, or falling back on WTO rules, are less in evidence,” Hogan said. “It is my hope that, over the course of the coming months, the British government will recognize that the best way to maintain the freest possible trade in goods such as agri-food products is to remain in the customs union.”

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