With the most Brexit-friendly Commons ever, UK is primed to get trade on a roll with a Swiss-style deal – The Sun
With the most Brexit-friendly Commons ever, UK is primed to get trade on a roll with a Swiss-style deal
FIRST things first. Eighty-five per cent of us voted for parties that pledged to leave the EU. The parties that wanted a rerun — Lib Dems, Greens and SNP — all lost ground. There has never been a more Brexit-friendly Commons.
Having a Swiss-style arrangement with the EU is a win-win for everyone
What kind of Brexit, though? Is there now a majority in Parliament for a so-called “soft Brexit”, in which we end up being bossed about by EU judges? Might Europhile Conservative and Labour MPs leave us with a Brexit that happens in name only?
No. That option has never been on the table. As Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, says: “The only real alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit.”
And “no Brexit” is not an alternative when more than 90 per cent of MPs have been elected for parties that promise to implement the referendum.
Donald Tusk says the only alternative to a hard Brexit is ‘no Brexit’
“Hard Brexit” doesn’t mean refusing to work with our EU allies. On the contrary, most Leavers want an open and global UK, in which we maintain our existing EU ties.
So what are our options?
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We could have a simple trade deal with the EU, like South Korea. There would be no ongoing budget contributions, and we’d have total control of our immigration policy. But our exports to the EU, especially in financial services, might drop and we’d struggle to keep the current border-free deal with Ireland.
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At the other extreme, we could get a Norway-style deal, inside the common market but outside the political institutions. We’d get back control of farming, fishing, trade and citizenship rights. But we’d have to accept free movement on something close to the current terms and pay into the EU budget. Worse, we’d have to take every new Brussels regulation.
Britain would have the power to reject regulations made in Brussels
Both of these options are better than where we are now. But we should aim higher.
In between the two is Switzerland, which has a kind of partial membership of the single market. It does not accept the rulings of the Euro-court but copies many of them through domestic legislation.
It has many more trade deals than has the EU, including with big economies like China and Japan.
Switzerland pays a small sum to Brussels — around a sixth as much per head as we do. EU and Swiss nationals have reciprocal working rights but must have jobs to go to. Importantly, the Swiss are not obliged to keep giving benefits rights to EU nationals whenever the European Court decides to extend them.
The Swiss are the second-richest people on Earth
I can’t help noticing the Swiss are doing well. They are the second-richest people on Earth and, the UN says, the second-happiest. They export more than four times as much per head to the EU as we do. Their companies are world-beating: Nestlé and Novartis, Rolex and Swatch, Glencore and UBS.
We co-founded the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with the Swiss back in 1960. Resuming our seat there wouldn’t be soft or hard Brexit. It would be global Brexit, extending our trade links with Europe and the whole world.
Isn’t EFTA a compromise all sides could live with?
- Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP and the author of What Next: How To Get The Best From Brexit