Brexit Briefings 1 – Single Market

The first of Nick Clegg’s Brexit briefing papers analyses the options facing the Government if it intends for Britain to retain significant access to the Single Market.

While Single Market access is essential to the British economy, but retaining access post-Brexit comes with significant challenges and trade-offs. The analysis in this paper shows that even if the Government can achieve concessions on freedom of movement, seeking to retain significant access to the Single Market would still mean adherence to its rules and regulations, while not having any control or influence over them.

The challenge now for the government is how to square the need for untrammelled access to the single market – from the “passport” rights for UK financial services to the technical specifications of mechanical goods – with the promise to “take back control”.

In order to trade freely on the continent, our exporters and their supply chains will have to abide by all of the rules of the Single Market. Without British representation in Brussels, they will have no say over how those rules are written.

This represents a huge loss of control for traders in our country many of which are hugely dependent on trade with the Single Market. Without representation, it is entirely possible that decisions will be taken in Brussels in future that are not in the interests of the UK, which heap extra costs on British industry, or actively discriminate against us in favour of operators based on the continent. If that happens, we won’t be able to do anything about it: compliance with those rules will be a precondition for our ability to trade freely with the EU. But that’s the price you pay for Brexit.

The full text of the first Brexit Challenge paper can be read here.

Judith Bunting’s article about Brexit Concerns for West Berkshire can be read here. 


Nick Clegg is the Liberal Democrat’s Spokesperson on the European Union. The experts Nick worked with on this paper include:
* Dr Heather Grabbe, Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute
* Anthony Cary CMG, former Head of Chris Patten’s cabinet at European Commission
* Professor Dame Helen Wallace, Member of the Academia Europaea
* Andy LeBrecht, former UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU
* Sir Robert Cooper KCMG MVO, former adviser to Javier Solana and Catherine Ashton

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