Adopting the Canadian model would mean erecting new barriers to trade

The language of Brexit matters. “Transition” sounds soothing, which is why Remainers like it. “Implementation” suggests something short and sharp, which is why Theresa May, UK prime minister, likes it. “Triggering Article 50” sounds technical and unstoppable. And “soft Brexit” has a less painful ring than “hard Brexit”, which sounds faintly indecent.

Soon, another Brexit phrase will trip off every tongue: “A Canada-style free trade agreement”. This is the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or Ceta — a model which David Davis, the Brexit secretary, declared last year to be “a perfectly good starting point” for discussions with the European Commission about future UK-EU trade relations. Last month, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, reciprocated by explaining that he knew from the moment the UK said it wanted out of the single market and the customs union, “we will have to work on a model that is closer to the agreement signed with Canada”.

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