UK eyes Canada-style trade deal with EU

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
UK eyes Canada-style trade deal with EU

Britain is aiming to secure a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU.

After securing an initial agreement on Friday to move Brexit talks to a second phase, Prime Minister Theresa May is keen to start discussing future ties with the EU.

This primarily includes a type of trading agreement to try to offer greater certainty for business.

Canada +++

The EU has been considering a post-Brexit free trade deal with the UK along the lines of one agreed last year with Canada.

But the UK economy is nearly twice the size of Canada's and British officials have said that their current alignment with EU standards and much closer trading links with the continent give them scope for an even deeper relationship.

When will this happen?

The UK wants the agreement to be signed shortly after it leaves the bloc in 2019, according to Brexit minister David Davis.

How easy will this be?

Not very. Despite David Davis striking a confident tone, EU officials say they will only launch negotiations on a legally-binding treaty after Britain leaves and becomes a "third country", according to draft negotiating guidelines.

The second phase of talks is expected to expose the rifts in May's top team of ministers over what Britain should look like once it leaves the EU.

What they are saying

"It's not that complicated, it comes right back to the alignment point..we start in full alignment, we start in complete convergence, so we can work it out from there," Davis told reporters.