There should be two options on the table for the discussions on Friday. There is the World Trade option, which does not require consent from the EU. This allows us to take back control of our laws, our money, our borders and our trade policy as promised on 29 March 2019. It avoids the uncertainty of a long transition and saves us a lot of money. I would advise that the extra £13bn of tax collected as tariffs on EU goods – prior to trade adjusting to more home production and non EU sourcing – should be given back to UK consumers as a tax cut.
Then there is the Free Trade Agreement option. This is much in the EU’s interest. If they thought it was a simple choice of a Free Trade Agreement or WTO, they would be likely to choose the Free Trade Agreement. Whether they do or not depends on how sensible they are, and on whether they believe we will otherwise simply leave with no agreement.
Under both these options the EU will try to argue it creates a border problem between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland. I do not see why it should do so. That complex border today works fine, even though it is a currency, Excise, VAT and people movement border. All the UK need say is it has no plans to put up watch towers or to delay trucks whilst they work out the VAT and customs dues. IT would then be up to the EU what it intends to do on its side of the border.
Some will seek to invent or reinvent some kind of Customs partnership or EEA membership as a third option. These variants fall foul of the PM’s promises to leave the single market and customs union, and delay or prevent taking back control of our laws, our trade policy, all our money and our borders. The PM was quite clear in the Commons on Monday that she does intend to take back control as required by the referendum vote. She was equally clear Northern Ireland leaves the EU in the same way as the rest of the UK does.
We are told to expect another White Paper on Brexit. The last one was clear and fairly detailed. It stated that “We will bring to an end the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU in the UK”. “We will design our immigration system to ensure that we are able to control the number of people who come here from the EU. In future the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply.” “The government is clear that no deal for the UK is better than a bad deal for the UK” The government should repeat those decisions.