Britain faces a lost decade outside of the Single Market. Instead of growing our economy, improving our public services, helping people live in a decent home, we will simply be working to replace the trade and the trade deals we lost. But it doesn't have to be like this...
Hard Brexit means Hard Times
Leaving the EU's Single Market wasn't on my EU Referendum ballot paper and it wasn't on yours either.
In fact, many leave campaigners promoted countries such as Norway as an example of countries outside of the EU but within the Single Market.
So, let's be clear, to exit the Single Market is a choice made by Theresa May and backed by her cabinet colleagues such as Bromsgrove's Sajid Javid.
That is why this June 8th election is about Brexit. It is principally about the Brexit that Mrs May wishes to negotiate and therefore, the kind of country that we will become.
Hence, let me recap why I and many others too believe that leaving the Single Market is an act of gratuitous self harm
- a hard break, leaving the Single Market will inflict a lost decade on business and government tax revenues and the ability to support public services
- leaving the EU is no longer the promised quick 18 month fix. Rather it will be a long and drawn out affair with transitional arrangements and one set of negotiations following another. It will take the whole of the next parliament and probably most of the subsequent parliament too.
- leaving the Single Market throws into doubt the rights of 3m EU nationals who made the UK their home and the vast majority of whom work, pay taxes, but no longer have any say or certainty about their future. This is not the act of a global leader but the response of a narrow inward looking country fearful for its weak negotiating position.
- small, medium and large businesses have all been making clear that a key requirement for success is access to talent and workers. In the case of JLR Group, these are the best engineers. For many small business, these are mid ranking staff and for many farms and the construction and hospitality industry it can be seasonal workers. The one thing all these businesses require is access to staff and the potential loss of access to EU staff is often their biggest concern - bigger than the fear over tarrifs or paperwork
- leaving the Single Market require expensive and non-foolproof visa applications which are typically slow and burdensome and invite companies to 'game the system'. So, as the USA and Australia are both claiming their visa systems aren't working and require a full overhaul. Okay, but at what cost?
- leaving the customs union (as well as single market) will break the trade agreements with the 50+ countries with whom Britain trades under either EU Single Market or EU negotiated trade agreements or soon to be agreed by the EU
- a huge expansion of central government and bureaucracy to deliver Brexit at the cost of nearly all other policies and at huge cost to the tax payers at the expense of other government priorities
- an initial attempt to prevent parliamentary scrutiny now followed by a desire to prevent the British people voting on the final deal.
- a potential / likely breakup of the UK following a hard border in NI and a Scottish minimal desire to remain in the Single Market
- leaving the Single Market sends out a message to our trade partners that we require bespoke deals, that we require special treatment. So far, this has been met with US realisation that there is more trade to be done with the EU - hence, it appears that is their priority; followed by India who are demanding increased migration to and from the UK in return for trade.
So despite all this, severe political risk to the UK and economic damage, why does Mrs May wish the UK to leave the Single Market? Well that's all due to Freedom of Movement. Which I will cover in my next post.