Brexit poll: should the next prime minister seek to join the single market? | Politics | New
When Britain negotiated its exit from the EU, a simultaneous exit from the single market was a red line in negotiations – but the prospect has deeply divided the political spectrum. Proponents have argued that it allows the UK to freely negotiate global trade deals, while those who oppose it say it excludes Britain from the source of its own booming economy.
Now, on the cusp of yet another political overhaul as the Conservative Party elects its new leader and the country’s next prime minister, attention is turning to what shape Brexit will take under the new leadership.
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Speaking on political commentary podcast The Rest is Politics on the day Boris Johnson stepped down, hopeful and ardent former Prime Minister Remainer Rory Stewart said the UK could be ready for a “Brexit customs union”.
He said: ‘If you’re trying to rebuild the UK economy, a big talk on customs union could be a central part of restoring confidence.
He explained to co-host Alastair Campbell: “Now people can see that the issues we face particularly with Northern Ireland, but also the issues we face with trade.
“We can see that the benefits of these independent trade agreements have been incredibly low and we are looking for a confident story.
“And finally, we can now see that because of what happened with Russia and Ukraine, the ERG’s bet that they might give up trade with Europe in order to trade with China …seems very risky now.
“Nobody wants to be exposed and totally dependent on trade with China, in fact almost every country is trying to reduce their dependence on China.”
Following the resignation of Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom has the opportunity to reset its relations with the European Union.
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This means a new prime minister could seek to join the single market, customs union and even the European Union just two years after independence from the UK.
Michel Barnier, the French official who brokered the Brexit deal on behalf of the EU, said: “Boris Johnson’s departure opens a new page in relations with the UK.
“May he be more constructive, more respectful of the commitments made, in particular regarding peace and stability in Northern Ireland, and more friendly with EU partners.”
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union six years ago meant that after the Brexit transition period, the UK would no longer be part of the single market.
The single market allows the free movement of goods, people, services and capital between EU member countries and European Economic Area countries such as Norway and Iceland.
Northern Ireland remains in the single market and under EU regulation under the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Johnson’s successor will be tasked with resolving the EU’s border with the UK on the island of Ireland.
Brussels has insisted that a border must exist between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the sake of the single market without threatening the Good Friday Agreement.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer ruled out the possibility of Labor joining the single market and described it as a ‘recipe for more division’ last week.
In a speech to the Center for European Reform think tank, he said joining the single market “would prevent us from meeting the challenges that people face, and it would ensure that Britain would remain stuck for a another decade”.
So what do you think? Should the next prime minister seek to join the single market? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comments section below.