I negotiated the EU’s expansion. Here are the mistakes the UK must avoid repeating

Years of negotiations with the EU lie ahead for Britain whichever of the options we choose. Only revoking article 50, an option dismissed by the prime minister, despite more than 5 million signatures on the petition to the government, would spare us. If the UK goes over the cliff edge on 12 April, British officials will be back in Brussels within days pleading for talks to limit the damage.

Even surprise approval of the withdrawal agreement would raise the curtain on lengthy negotiations on future relations with the EU. The divorce settlement is a beginning not an end. Canada required nine years to negotiate and implement a straightforward free trade agreement with the EU. Switzerland, proudly independent, outside the EU and the European Economic Area, had to negotiate more than 100 bilateral agreements with the EU to ensure frictionless trade and other essential interactions.

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