This paper examines the various options for a new economic relationship that appears to be available at the time of opening negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Canada’s concerns with respect to an eventual Brexit are considered, as well as the political and economic considerations motivating the European Union and the United Kingdom. This paper argues that the United Kingdom has so far proposed largely constitutional options, but neglected the economic dimensions of the issues posed by Brexit. Various existing models are reviewed. In conclusion, the author argues that if the United Kingdom has no options beyond the free trade model, it would do the rest of Europe and North America a great service by negotiating an Atlantic free trade area.

Brexit: The International Legal Implications is a series examining the political, economic, social and legal storm that was unleashed by the United Kingdom’s June 2016 referendum and the government’s response to it. After decades of strengthening European integration and independence, the giving of notice under article 50 of the Treaty on European Union forces the UK government and the European Union to address the complex challenge of unravelling the many threads that bind them, and to chart a new course of separation and autonomy. Brexit necessitates a deep understanding of its international law implications on both sides of the English Channel, in order to chart the stormy seas of negotiating and advancing beyond separation. The paper series features international law practitioners and academics from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Europe, explaining the challenges that need to be addressed in the diverse fields of trade, financial services, insolvency, intellectual property, environment and human rights.