Brexit means outside the single market

Brexit means outside the single market

Throughout the referendum campaign, Vote Leave leaders consistently campaigned for access to the single market, not membership. The distinction is critical. Yet, over two months since the referendum, many pundits still can’t seem to spot the difference.

So let’s spell it out. Access to the single market means being able to trade with single-market countries. Membership means being bound by single-market rules.

Why is this difference so important?

Because access is consistent with the vote to leave the EU. Membership isn’t.

Access clearly doesn’t require membership. Countries around the world trade with the single market. Many do so freely, with no tariff barriers, via bilateral free-trade agreements. Britain can do the same. We don’t need to be part of the single market to trade freely with it.

In fact, we will have freer trade once we leave the single market. Because the single market doesn’t enable commerce, but rather restricts it.

The single market is a permission-based system. It stops suppliers from selling things people want to buy unless they conform to standards set by bureaucrats in Brussels. Rather than remove trade barriers, the single market creates them. Not between countries, but between producers and consumers.

The effect is to limit competition. Big corporations with expensive lobbyists rig the rules to shut out disruptive innovation from upstart rivals. Economic progress is impeded.

Membership of the single market means 100% of British businesses have to comply with Brussels’ anti-competitive regulation – even though only 6% of British businesses export to the EU. Open Europe estimates the cost of single-market regulations to British business at over £600 million a week.

Breaking free from these rules was a big reason why the majority voted to leave.

Pundits often present the question of leaving the single market as a straight choice between free movement and free trade. They’re missing the point.

Leaving the single market isn’t just the only way to take back control of our borders. It’s the only way to take back control of our laws. Remaining subject to single-market regulations means failing to restore Parliamentary sovereignty – and failing to deliver the mandate from the voters.

We need a new relationship with the EU, based on free trade only: tariff-free access to the single market, not single-market membership. That’s what over 17 million people voted for. That’s what Brexit means.