This article was first published on Comment Central.
Before the EU Referendum it was made clear a ‘Leave’ vote would involve leaving the EU’s Single Market. Heavyweight Eurosceptics, such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage all argued for this.
Britain Stronger in Europe accepted this at the time, but due to ‘Leave’ winning the Referendum they are using ‘Project Fear’ tactics to argue leaving the Single Market will spell disaster.
In a bizarre turn of events, the remain camp seem to have forgotten what leaving the EU means. They argue we can have a ‘hard Brexit’, a ‘soft Brexit’, and even a ‘grey Brexit’.
As losers of the Referendum, they are trying to divide the ‘Leave’ vote to scupper Brexit. In trying to turn what was a simple binary choice into a muddled set of options, they are deliberately attempting to weaken the Government’s negotiating stance. Remainers hope Britain will get a poor deal, full of compromises and complications. They must not be allowed to do this.
Leaving the EU is much simpler than is being made out. We voted ‘Leave’ to have control over our laws, our borders and our money. We cannot have this with a ‘soft Brexit’, where the UK remains a member of the Single Market, which the EU defines “as an area without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of goods, people, services and capital is ensured”. It is in effect EU membership by the backdoor.
If the UK remains subject to the Court of Justice of the European Union we cannot be in control of our laws. If the UK makes EU budgetary contributions, we cannot be in control of our money. If we remain wedded to the free movement of people principle, we cannot have full control of our borders. The two are mutually exclusive.
Opponents negatively label this ‘hard Brexit’. The term deliberately suggests a strict and painful settlement which will work for nobody. By creating a false dichotomy between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, they deliberately misrepresent what leaving the EU really means. It is in the EU’s interest to continue to trade with us, just as much as it is in the UK’s to trade with the EU. After all, the EU sells more to us than we sell to them.
Their fears are further misplaced as we can have access to the Single Market without being members of it. As Lord Stoddart recently noted, 194 countries and territories trade with the Single Market without being members of it. It is delusional to think the United Kingdom will fail to gain ‘access’ without ‘membership’ where all these 194 have succeeded.
Meanwhile, the remain camp find the alternative ‘soft Brexit’ a delightful compromise. The term implies harmony, where both sides are happy with the outcome. This would mean a hotchpotch deal with Brussels, requiring membership of EU institutions and continued financial contributions.
It is time for the Soft-Brexiteers to embrace the referendum result like the rest of the country. A recent poll has revealed 52 per cent of those polled believe Brexit was the right decision, compared to just 39 per cent who said it was the wrong decision. 14 per cent of Remain voters were now reconciled to Brexit, while there was not nearly as much ‘regret’ among Leave voters, only 3 per cent of whom now believed Brexit was the wrong decision.
Instead, we should recognise a swift Brexit could be both simple and deliver the wishes of the British people. Simply put, we voted to Get Britain Out of the EU. There’s clearly wisdom in our Prime Minister, Theresa May’s proclamation “Brexit means Brexit”.