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Brexiteers Bet the U.K. Can Defy Gravity in Post-Divorce Trade

  • Countries trade more with close neighbors, evidence shows
  • Some trying to oust Theresa May prefer a clean break with EU
Theresa May
Theresa MayPhotographer: David Levenson/Bloomberg
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The U.K.’s hard-line Brexit backers are making their move. If they get their way on new trade arrangements, they’ll face a test of gravity.

Many of those plotting to oust Prime Minister Theresa May also favor reverting to basic World Trade Organization rules -- thereby creating new barriers with Europe -- arguing that it would supercharge economic activity with other, faster-growing countries further afield. That’s at odds with the theory of trade gravity, which states that the level of commerce between two countries is in proportion to their size and proximity.