Stifling EU red tape could force Britain to remain in bloc for next DECADE

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It could take up to ten years for Britain to extricate itself from the EU if voters go for Brexit

If the UK votes to leave the EU on June 23, two years of negotiations will automatically be set in motion.

But, with all 27 other member states having to agree on Britain’s leaving conditions, it is feared the process could take up to eight years more before Britain is fully extricated from the Union.

In short, a vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process. It could lead to up to a decade or more of uncertainty.

British Government

Article 50 of the Treaty on the EU – the law which lets a country withdraw from the EU – has never been used before in the 59-years the EU has been in existence.

Theoretically Article 50 means Britain could be free of the EU by the summer of 2018, but with any member country able to block an agreement, the likelihood of an extension being requested and accepted is high.

If Britain leaves the EU without a proper arrangement in place regarding special access to the single market after the initial two years, the country would have to rely on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules until a new agreement could be reached.

This means the EU would apply a range of tariffs to UK goods which currently do not have any extra tariff due to being part of the single market.

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David Cameron is hoping Britain will remain in the EU

Sugars and confectionary would incur a massive 29 per cent tariff, while other items such as meat and fruits would have a 20 per cent and 11 per cent tariff respectively placed on them to export to the EU.

A Government study into what would happen if Britons vote to leave the EU in June says it is probable an extension would be needed on the two-years in order to negotiate an exit from the EU, future arrangements with the EU and trade deals with countries outside the EU on terms “acceptable” to the UK.

The document says: “In short, a vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process.

“It could lead to up to a decade or more of uncertainty.”

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The UK is tied in to many laws made in Brussels

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EU leaders met in Brussels this week to discuss the migrant crisis

However, the Leave campaign is confident Britain could be extricated from the EU within the first two years as current regulations are “100 per cent compatible already”.

Jack Montgomery, spokesman for leave.EU, told Express.co.uk: “It took less than two years for Edward Heath to negotiate an entry deal, despite the fact that joining meant doing enormous damage to the fishing industry, giving up the ability to conduct our own trade policy and, as Field Marshal Montgomery put it, ‘chucking the Commonwealth overboard’.

“The Lisbon Treaty stipulates a perfectly adequate two-year negotiating period for Brexit, and all we have to sort out is continued participation in a few mutually beneficial programmes and free trade.

“Our regulations are 100 per cent compatible already, so most of the issues the EU has had with the likes of Canada and the US simply won’t come up.”

Despite Mr Cameron calling for Britain to remain in the EU, he has previously admitted trading with the EU would remain easy even if the UK left.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show in January 2013, he said: “If we were outside the EU altogether, we’d still be trading with all these European countries, of course we would.

“There’s a lot of scaremongering on all side of this debate.

“Of course the trading would go on.”

And Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the House of Commons in February 2015: “A free trade agreement in goods would be relatively simple to negotiate.”

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