UK will leave single market

Update: see our latest on this story – “UK may not leave single market” 

In significant, if rather unsurprising news, the Prime Minister has signalled that the UK will leave the single market. Currently, the only ways to be a ‘member’ of the single market is to be in the EU or to negotiate membership of the EEA through EFTA. Members of the EEA must contribute to the EU budget and accept the four freedoms – something that the UK is unlikely to want to continue doing. Theresa May said that she will not try to “keep bits of membership”.

“Often people talk in terms as if somehow we are leaving the EU but we still want to kind of keep bits of membership of the EU. We are leaving. We are coming out. We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer”

Theresa May

Therefore, the only solution available is for the UK to negotiate access to the single market – something that May has said before, in comments that she would seek a “red, white and blue Brexit.”

It is also likely that the UK will leave the customs union, allowing it to negotiate trade deals with other countries. It is really not surprising whatsoever that May has signalled a UK exit from single market membership. Considering that the UK does not want to accept freedom of movement, would like to negotiate trade deals with third countries, and does not want to contribute to the EU budget, it is the only obvious solution.

This position has been supported by the Labour Party and those in the leave campaign. Big businesses and remain supporters are not altogether convinced. Speaking on the BBC, prominent remain campaigner Anna Soubry MP said that she “didn’t want to rerun the arguments of the campaign” but nevertheless thought that single market membership should still be an option. Vote Leave Chief Executive, Matthew Elliott, responded that those wishing to retain single market membership were absolutely rerunning the arguments of the campaign and should accept that the UK will cease to have membership after Brexit.

Hopefully, this will mean that I no longer have to summarise a plethora of pro- and anti-single market membership views each week. The Prime Minister has spoken: Brexit means Brexit.

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Thomas Dempster

Thomas has a background in politics, having worked in Parliament for a number of years. He worked alongside a wide range of stakeholders from business, local and supra-national government, and charities on various projects.

Before this, he worked for GlaxoSmithKline and as a theatre producer. Thomas enjoys playing cricket, cycling, and reading.

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