The Prime Minster first mentioned the idea of GATT24 (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) paragraph 5B, during what Remoaners believed was a car crash interview with BBC anchor Andrew Neil. The veteran broadcaster had challenged Mr Johnson during his leadership bid on paragraph 5C – to which Mr Johnson replied he would “confide entirely in 5B”. According to the WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules, GATT24 paragraph 5B would create an “interim agreement leading to the formation of a free-trade area”.
Mr Neil had claimed the 5C would overrule this and the UK would still be tied to the customs union for a “reasonable length of time”.
However this interpretation has been dismissed by Dr Lorand Bartels, an expert in trade law at Cambridge University.
In his report, he said: “When we leave the EU, we can continue to charge zero tariffs on goods originating in the EU.
“And they can continue to charge zero tariffs on goods originating in the UK.
“If we have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU which falls under Art.XXIV(8)(b).”
This has been backed by several leading Brexiteers including Iain Duncan Smith, Tory MP, David Campbell Bannerman, former MEP, Martin Howe, chairman of lawyers for Britain, Jon Moynihan, chair of vote leave’s finance committees and Rebecca Ryan, head of standup4brexit.
In a joint article the group of eurosceptics said GATT24 is a “get out of jail free card” for the UK and Brussels to ensure there is some type of agreement even in the case of a no deal Brexit on October 31.
The Brexiteers wrote in The Telegraph: “GATT Article XXIV is the ‘get out of jail free’ card for both the UK and the EU.
“It can satisfy MPs because it is a deal, even if a basic deal. Why wouldn’t both sides want to use it?”
Meanwhile the Prime Minister has called for both the UK and EU to “step up the tempo” in talks, with negotiators sitting down twice a week in September.
Mr Johnson told the BBC the existing Withdrawal Agreement would leave the UK being “bossed around by Brussels with no comeback” and needed to be rewritten.
He said; “Everybody can see the rough shape of what needs to be done, everybody has now got a fix in their heads about the kind of landing place we need to get to.
“It’s going to take work, it’s going to take a lot of energy for us to get there.”