UK, leaving the single market?

A news report from the Guardian notes that the UK is unlikely to stay in the single market, “Britain is unlikely to be able to remain a member of the single market, according to a document photographed in the hands of a senior Conservative official on Downing Street. A handwritten note, carried by an aide to the Tory vice-chair Mark Field after a meeting at the Department for Exiting the European Union, could be seen to say: “What’s the model? Have cake and eat it.” And in a further embarrassment, it added “French likely to be most difficult.” It also suggests that a deal on manufacturing with the EU should be “relatively straightforward” but admits that services, such as in the financial or legal sectors, are harder. One idea cited in the note is a “Canada-plus” option, suggesting Britain could look to replicate the free trade deal hammered out by the EU over seven years with Ottawa. However, it suggests that the UK would be seeking “more on services” than was agreed in the comprehensive economic and trade agreement (Ceta). A government spokesperson distanced Theresa May from the document, saying: “These individual notes do not belong to a government official or a special adviser. They do not reflect the government’s position in relation to Brexit negotiations.” However, the fact they appeared to have been taken during a meeting with officials or even ministers – given May’s tight-lipped approach to the negotiating strategy – means that they will be pored over”.

The report adds “The woman carrying the document appears to be Julia Dockerill, chief of staff to Field, who is vice-chair of the Conservative party, working on international issues and MP for the Cities of London and Westminster. Field does not have a formal Brexit role but does take a keen interest on the impact that leaving the EU could have on the country’s financial services, many of which are based in his constituency, and is likely to have been speaking to senior figures about this issue. The notes also said: “Transitional – loath to do it. Whitehall will hold onto it. We need to bring an end to negotiations.” That could suggest that ministers are not keen to enter a transitional deal after the end of the article 50 period, despite May hinting last week that this would be possible. Other comments include: “Difficult on article 50 implementation – Barnier wants to see what deal looks like first”, in reference to lead negotiator Michel Barnier. “Got to be done in parallel – 20 odd negotiations. Keep the two years. Won’t provide more detail,” it adds. “We think it’s unlikely we’ll be offered Single Market.” The document appears to reflect a discussion about the prospect of a trade deal like that of Norway, which is a member of the European Economic Area”.

It points out that “That appears to refer to the drawbacks of taking on the Norwegian model, which has the country outside the EU and its customs union, but inside the single market. The reason Brexit supporters do not want to follow that idea is the requirement that Norway accepts free movement of people and is under the jurisdiction of the European court. The document was being carried out of 9 Downing Street, the Brexit department, and into No 10 Downing Street when it was photographed. It comes after reports that there is a sign on the DExEU exit doors reading: “Stop! Are your documents on show?”. It emerged on Monday that the government faces the prospect of a second legal challenge to its Brexit plans, with the group British Influence threatening a judicial review over whether leaving the EU means Britain must also automatically leave the European Economic Area and hence lose the free trading benefits of the single market”.

It concludes “She has made clear that there will have to be more controls on immigration from the EU and wants to see an end to the jurisdiction of the European court of justice – which is why many think Britain will come out of the single market. But the lack of further details from No 10 has alarmed many formerly pro-EU Labour and Tory MPs, who are increasingly cooperating in an attempt to stop a “hard Brexit”. Their key demands are staying as close to the single market as possible, a transitional deal to cushion the economic effect of leaving and more parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiations. Some former remain politicians, including former prime ministers Tony Blair and Sir John Major, are even pushing for a second referendum to allow the public to vote on or even veto any deal for leaving the EU. It was also reported in the Sunday Times that Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, backs a transitional deal with the EU to cushion the impact of Brexit for businesses until at least 2021″.

 

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