Who to trust on the economy? The CBI or Dr Fox with his kamikazee Brexit?

This week, it was very welcome to hear the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) calling for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union once it leaves the EU, until a full trade deal is in place.

This seems to be simple common sense to me.

Anything else would be utter lunacy. Cross border supply chains are now so entrenched that leaving the customs union (without a viable (frictionless border) alternative) would be sheer insanity. Ask anyone who has had to chase boxes through customs (which is like this).

One person who, I highly suspect, has never had to chase a box through customs is the Right Honourable Dr Liam Fox.

Dr Fox criticised the CBI’s stance saying:

We can’t have a perpetual transitional period undermining the concept of Brexit itself.

This remarks seems utterly stupid on two levels:

(a) There has to be a transitional period after the two years of Article 50. Otherwise, we’ll have a cliff edge into oblivion (aka WTO rules). Greenland took two years to negotiate leaving the EEC and they have a population of less than 60,000 and had only one thing to negotiate about – fish.

(b) Brexit, or what was voted on in the June 23rd 2016 referendum – that is leaving the EU, does not mean leaving the single market or customs union. Norway, who many Brexiteers quoted as a model in the referendum campaign, is not in the EU but in the single market. And as Nick Clegg says, there is a world of wiggle room on free movement if only we were to put our minds to it.

I do hope the UK is not seduced by Liam Fox’s kamikazee Brexit course which will cut our national nose off to spite our face.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Anything even remotely sensible the brexit brigade reject immediately 🙁

  • Andrew McCaig 9th Jul '17 - 6:48pm

    Actually Norway is in the Single Market but not in the customs union..

    And Turkey is in the customs union but not the Single Market…

    I will let someone else give the pros and cons of these arrangements…

  • Peter Martin 9th Jul '17 - 8:46pm

    @ Paul,

    It’s really not that hard to ship goods in and out of the country. Once you’re set up with a VAT number and an EORI number everything is quite straightforward. It doesn’t seem to make much difference whether the stuff is coming/going to the EU or outside of it. In fact its easier sending stuff outside the EU. There’s no VAT on any of it. Inside the EU you need to check up if your customer qualifies for VAT free or not. Then fill in the necessary forms to justify that to the VAT people ……

    There’s better arguments for staying in the EU than the hindrance on the movement of goods. Like access to finance markets in the EU. WTO rules actually would favour the UK on the existing trade pattern between the UK and the EU. There’s a big deficit on this which the EU can’t ignore.

    It’s that trade deficit which gives us a debt problem. The Govt has to deficit spend to replenish that loss and prevent our economy falling into recession. It’s a simple, and almost 1:1 relationship which is hardly ever explained by the mainstream.

    But having said that I do accept there are arguments either way. Economics, including the economics of our our relationship with the EU, might seem like “simple common sense” but rarely is quite that simple.

  • Bernard glenholme 9th Jul '17 - 11:07pm

    In view of Mr Canle’s comments this morning I presume the party will drop the word “Democrats” from its title since you clearly do not, and have for done time, accepted the democratic vote of the people.

  • Bless Bernhard, democracy doesn’t mean you have to go along with any vote, you can disagree with them you know, that is the very essence of democracy. How is Brexit going by the way, have you brave Brexiteers come up with a plan yet, or is planning so last year?

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