A HYPOTHETICAL conversation:

David Davis: “Why does the EU advocate tariff and quota free trade for its member states?”

Michel Barnier: “Because, since Adam Smith in the 18th century and David Ricardo in the 19th century, free trade has delivered sustained economic growth and employment and also fostered harmonious inter-state relations.”

Davis: “OK, Michel, you clearly appreciate the lessons of economic history. Why then are you reluctant to extend the benefits of free trade to UK post Brexit?”

Barnier (pausing): “Well... UK is leaving the EU and we cannot have non-members benefiting from EU rules”

Davis: “Why is that?! You just explained how free trade has been mutually beneficial for European states! How can it be a bad thing now?”

Barnier: (Silent)

Davis: “You don’t want your Gang of 27 to break up, do you?! Your bold post-war European experiment must not be put in jeopardy, must it?! Increased trade and employment are far more important than building a powerful and faceless bureaucracy. Grow up, Michel.”

Barnier (pausing again): “Same deal as before then?”

Ex-Abingdon resident