The UK could become an “associate” member of a new North American Free Trade Area (“Nafta”) with the US, Canada and Mexico, once Brexit has occurred. The idea was first proposed by US senator Newt Gingrich, in the 1990s – Mr Gingrich is now tipped to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, increasing the likelihood of talks about the UK’s involvement.
Mr Trump repeatedly attacked the current Nafta during his presidential campaign, leading commentators to believe the current form looks set for reform or abolishment in the new year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is willing to renegotiate Nafta once Mr Trump is inaugurated in January 2017.
When Mr Gingrich initially raised the idea of allowing the UK to become an associate member in April 1998, it was backed by Margaret Thatcher and right-wing Eurosceptics in Britain, but was condemned by the then Labour government. Conservative MPs have now welcomed the idea, saying that both Britain and the US have similar policies towards the free market and describing it is an opportunity that has come with Brexit.