This week, it was very welcome to hear the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) calling for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union once it leaves the EU, until a full trade deal is in place.
This seems to be simple common sense to me.
Anything else would be utter lunacy. Cross border supply chains are now so entrenched that leaving the customs union (without a viable (frictionless border) alternative) would be sheer insanity. Ask anyone who has had to chase boxes through customs (which is like this).
One person who, I highly suspect, has never had to chase a box through customs is the Right Honourable Dr Liam Fox.
Dr Fox criticised the CBI’s stance saying:
We can’t have a perpetual transitional period undermining the concept of Brexit itself.
This remarks seems utterly stupid on two levels:
(a) There has to be a transitional period after the two years of Article 50. Otherwise, we’ll have a cliff edge into oblivion (aka WTO rules). Greenland took two years to negotiate leaving the EEC and they have a population of less than 60,000 and had only one thing to negotiate about – fish.
(b) Brexit, or what was voted on in the June 23rd 2016 referendum – that is leaving the EU, does not mean leaving the single market or customs union. Norway, who many Brexiteers quoted as a model in the referendum campaign, is not in the EU but in the single market. And as Nick Clegg says, there is a world of wiggle room on free movement if only we were to put our minds to it.
I do hope the UK is not seduced by Liam Fox’s kamikazee Brexit course which will cut our national nose off to spite our face.