A Brexit deal that would end free movement and see UK goods able to access the EU market without tariffs or the need to jump through any additional hoops sounds, superficially, attractive. These arrangements could also be in place by the 2020 general election, as I say in my Sun column.
But this idea of leaving the EU single market, but staying in the customs union is a bad one—however keen some in the Treasury and Whitehall are on it. For if Britain remains in the customs union, then it can’t do proper trade deals with non-EU countries. Instead, it will have to continue to apply the EU’s Common External Tariff. This is designed to protect the EU’s most politically sensitive industries: imposing a 10 percent tariff on cars, an 11.5 percent one on clothes and even higher tariffs on various food stuffs
Another reason why staying in the customs union is not the answer is that it doesn’t cover the sector that makes up nearly 80 percent of the UK economy, services. So, a separate deal would have to be negotiated to the City of London and the rest.
One of the big benefits of Brexit should be that this country can do proper trade deals with the fast growing economies of the 21st century. Stuck in the customs union, you can’t do that. It is time for Britain to go out into the world.