The Brexiteer businessman said the BBC’s Nick Robinson was “completely wrong” to say there was “no such thing” as a managed no deal Brexit as he called for the so-called ‘Article 24’ to be used to secure continued free trade with Europe. Brexiteers including Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Owen Paterson have said ‘Article 24’ could be used to secure tariff-free trade with the EU for up to a decade.
The huge row began when the BBC host said: “If you’d got the chance to do this, what you’d have to do is go to the EU and you would have to say to them ‘we want a new agreement, a new deal’, something they haven’t yet agreed to under what is called Article 24 of the WTO. What happens if they say no?”
In response, the Brexit Party chairman said: “It’s interesting, isn’t it? Our Government hasn’t yet asked for an Article 24 agreement under the WTO whereby you’d basically have a two-year standstill.
“It’s extraordinary that they didn’t ask for that.”
When Mr Robinson asked once again what would happen if the EU said no, Mr Tice fired back and insisted it was “very clear”, adding: “The European Union said that they were ready for a no deal Brexit.
“We are the other side of the coin. If they are ready then that means that actually, we are basically ready.
“And it is interesting that our own Brexit minister, the no deal minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, he resigned because number 10 and the senior civil servants were ignoring his advice that actually we were ready.”
The BBC host pushed once again and said: “Third time. What happens if they say no? It does require under WTO rules that two sides agree to this thing that you are saying. What if they say no?”
Mr Tice blasted: “I’ve just explained and I am happy to explain again if you don’t hear me the first time which is that…”
While talking over each other, Mr Robinson insisted the Brexit Party chairman “didn’t say the first time” as he asked again what would happen if the EU said no.
Mr Tice said Britain would then move to a “managed no deal Brexit”. But the BBC host quickly fired back and insisted there is “no such thing”.
Mr Tice continued: “There is. I’m sorry, Nick, you are completely wrong.
“That’s if you look at Article 24. I’ve just explained and I will explain it again, that if you have a no deal Brexit then bilateral agreements are in place.
“The European Union said that they have the necessary things in place. Chris Heaton-Harris, the no deal Brexit minister, likewise said the same. The truth is that we were ready and we can be ready. And do you know what? It’s called negotiating leverage.
“If they want some of our money and remember how much more they sell to us than we sell to them, we have the negotiating leverage and that’s the opportunity.
“But it requires competent and capable negotiators to organise this.”
Article 24, formally Article XXIV of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), sets out the rules under which countries can make free trade deals.
Within the rules is a clause which states that nations can request an interim free trade agreement while they thrash out the details of the finished deal.
These interim agreements can be used if both countries agree to the terms and provide a clear timetable for the completed trade deal as well as details of what the finished terms will look like.
Providing other WTO members do not object or insist on changes, the two signatories could enjoy free trade in goods while the agreement is formally drawn up.