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Former Cabinet Secretary Warns Brexit Could Take "10 Years"

March 30, 2016 12:00 PM

Baron Gus O'Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary (http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/leadership/sir-gus-odonnell)

Baron O'Donnell advised three Prime Ministers as Cabinet Secretary

In an interview with BBC Radio Four, Lord O'Donnell, Britain's most senior civil servant from 2005 - 2011, said that the Cabinet Office had determined that an exit from the EU could take "up to a decade" rather than the two years allowed under the Lisbon Treaty.

"We have to negotiate our entry to the single market, we have to negotiate our future relationship with the EU and then we have to negotiate our trade treaties with all other countries. So there's a lot to be done." He went on to warn that it was not a level playing field with the exiting country being excluded from the process of agreeing the conditions of any extension over the permitted two years.

"The politics works completely the wrong way for us", he noted when referring to the elections in France and Germany in 2017 where politicians are likely to come under pressure to not do special deals for the UK.

Without a deal he warned that the Britain would revert to World Trade Organisation rules, and that mean significant tariffs.