The new Remain media line is to draw an absurd distinction between hard and soft Brexit.
We were asked to vote to remain or leave. We voted to leave the EU. The Vote Leave campaign made clear that meant taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money. Polling after the event shows starkly that Leave voters understood that and mainly voted to take back control. It also shows that very few Remain voters (about 10% of total voters) bought into the idea of European Union and wanted further integration along continental lines. ( Michael Ashcroft post vote polls)
The PM has already rightly ruled out the Norwegian and Swiss options, and ruled out staying in the EEA. We leave what the EU regards as the single market as this is fully integrated with the EU as a whole and includes freedom of movement and financial contributions to the budgets.
The main issue we need to sort out with the rest of the EU is access to the single market. All non EU member states have access to the single market. The rest of the EU has to make a simple choice. Do they want to retain tariff free access to the UK market or not? If not, then their access and our access will be under MFN WTO rules, which allows an average tariff of 3.5%. That leaves us 6.5% more competitive, and them 13.5% less competitive after the devaluation of the pound against the Euro.
They will of course want to stay tariff free. If the EU institutional vindictive policy did win out despite the commonsense of most member states and the interests of business on the continent, then the UK will enjoy tariff free trade on things we are good at like aerospace and services, whilst French agriculture will face quite high tariffs and German cars a 10% tariff.
None of this need take a long time to settle, nor does it require a complex negotiation. It is a simple choice. Carry on tariff free as at present, or revert to the WTO ready made schedules.
There is no soft or hard Brexit. We do not negotiate taking back control – that is a contradiction in terms. Nor do I expect us to lose trade over this, as I do not think our EU partners are both vindictive and stupid.