Opponents say government’s desire to draw up copycat deals to replace existing EU agreements amounts to ‘cut-and-paste Brexit’

Senior government figures have said that the UK does not have the capacity to renegotiate dozens of trade deals that already exist between the EU and third countries.

Instead, they are planning to draw up copycat deals to those that already exist, in an attempt to replicate an agreement struck by Theresa May in Japan last week. May and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, signed a joint statement that committed their countries to working towards an economic partnership agreement (EPA) as an “immediate priority”.

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