Anything other than a clean Brexit would be economically disastrous and a betrayal of the British people
At Chequers today, the Cabinet are debating a freshly fudged variant of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union. If the proposals are agreed, future historians will see this as the moment the Prime Minister belied her “Brexit means Brexit” mantra and crossed her own red lines – with full Cabinet support.
These new proposals, driven by uber-Remain civil servants, would leave the UK in the EU’s single market and customs union in all but name. Bizarrely, Britain would also collect customs duties on the EU’s behalf – making an independent trade policy virtually impossible. The UK would be at the behest of EU rules with no influence in setting them and none of the growth-boosting advantages of escaping Brussels’ grasp. These plans are incoherent, economically disastrous, and a fraud on the 17.4 million people who backed Brexit, our biggest ever act of democracy.
I’ve consistently argued for “Clean Brexit”, with Britain leaving the single market and customs union altogether. If the single market is so good, why is our EU trade diminishing, in deficit and smaller than our trade beyond the EU? The US and China conduct hundreds of billions of dollars of EU trade without vast contributions or “freedom of movement” rules.
The protectionist customs union, meanwhile, puts high tariffs on the 85 per cent of the world economy beyond the EU, making food, clothing and footwear much dearer – items on which poorer UK households spend heavily. And with conflicting EU member interests blocking free trade agreements with the US, China and other big economies, Britain can better secure such deals alone.