BREXIT Britain lacks the expert manpower to forge the same amount of trade deals as the EU, Whitehall trade chiefs have conceded.
Last week the PM announced Britain was hoping to “bring over” some of the 48 of the agreements that the EU currently has with countries like Canada, Switzerland and South Korea.
And Mrs May announced any future trade deal the UK has with Japan will be based upon the agreement they sign with the EU.
But insiders admit they will be forced to “copy and paste” to free up Britain’s limited number of trade negotiators to work on any new deals with other countries like America and Australia.
A senior source at the Department for International Trade said: “We can’t do 40 Free Trade Agreements, we haven’t got the capacity to do that.”
But critics branded the concession “yet another broken Brexit promise.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable accused “under-prepared” ministers of “presiding over a Whitehall farce”.
He hit out: “First we learned that countries such as Japan and India have no interest in doing separate trade deals with the UK.”
“Now we learn that even if there was appetite for such deals, we wouldn’t have the capacity to negotiate them.”
Labour’s Darren Jones MP, who backs the Open Britain campaign, weighed in saying: “Given we have not negotiated a single trade deal for forty years, it’s hardly surprising that the Government lacks the capacity to take on fifty at a time.”
He added: “Ministers should focus on our most important trade deal – the one with the European Union – and ensure that half of all our trade remains truly free by seeking to negotiate for continued British membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.”
The freedom for Britain to negotiate new trade deals is a key “red line” for the Government, with one Cabinet Minister telling the Wall Street Journal last night: “If we can’t do that, what’s the point of leaving?”