Hard Brexit v Soft Brexit – the facts
By Chris Sheldrake
The Leave side fought and won the Referendum campaign on four clear policy lines:
1. Take back control of immigration policy
2. Take back control of our legal system, ending the primacy of the European Court of Justice
3. Take back the power to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries
4. End EU Budget contributions
Given the very recent experience of Cameron’s failed renegotiation, it was entirely obvious throughout the campaign that the Brussels Establishment and the political leaders of the other major EU states would regard the continuation of tariff-free trade in goods and services between the UK and the 27 as incompatible with any one of these four demands, let alone all four.
As the four issues detailed above were the entire basis on which the Leave campaign won, they will inevitably be red lines in the Leave negotiations.
With the attitude of the rest of the EU clearly stated beforehand, it stands to reason that leaving always had to mean being outside the so-called Single Market and also the customs union. Being in the customs union requires member states to hand over all external trade negotiations to Brussels.
Leading Remain spokesmen, including Cameron and Osborne, made all this very clear throughout the campaign.
Every Remain campaigner knows only too well that this is the case, yet they are being entirely dishonest by continuing to demand “Soft Brexit” in the hope that [former Remainer] Mrs May can be persuaded to water down her four red lines.
In short, what they are trying to do is keep the United Kingdom firmly under the control of Brussels but without a place at the table, at which we could make an ultimately fruitless attempt to influence the future direction of the Union. This would clearly be the worst of all worlds.
Much is being made of the need for confidentiality in our negotiating strategy, yet there really is no need to hold back on this:
It is obvious that the Government will offer to continue with tariff-free trade in goods and services together with clear implementation of the four red lines. The deal is very much in the interest of the 27, given our trade deficit with them, and it can be sweetened with continuing co-operation in areas such as security and policing but essentially that is it. There may be some negotiation around the edges but essentially it will be up to the 27 to accept or decline this offer.
Given the frequently stated position from Brussels, they will almost certainly decline rather quickly. In that case major discussions can be ended and trade will have to revert to WTO trade terms.
Mrs May will then endeavour to ensure that we make a clean but friendly break with the 27, allowing time for discussion of the fine detail after we have formally left.
Remember, the Article 50 period of 24 months is a maximum, every month we remain within the Union costs us another £850m in net contributions.
In whose interest is it to prolong negotiations?