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Trade deals ‘faster outside Europe’

By Staff Reporters

Trade agreements with other countries could be concluded much quicker by the UK on its own than as part of the EU, Philip Hammond has claimed.

The Chancellor insisted that no decision had yet been made on the customs union, amid reports that Cabinet ministers were warned that leaving the arrangement could risk a 4.5% fall in GDP by 2030.

Mr Hammond refused to confirm to the Treasury Select Committee that preliminary discussions about future agreements with other countries meant Britain was committed to leaving it.

He was challenged by chairman Andrew Tyrie, who pointed out that trade policy within the customs union was negotiated collectively, raising questions about the purpose of Liam Fox’s International Trade Department unless it had already been decided to leave the arrangement.

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