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Just staying in the customs union won't resolve Brexit
27 Feb, 2018

The Evening Standard publishes a letter from Michael Romberg

On 27 February 2018, the Evening standard published an edited version of a letter from London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg under the title above. He has written related blogs about Jeremy Corbyn's speech and a customs union. In the same issue Anne McElvoy, senior editor at the Economist, wrote the main opinion piece on a similar theme: Corbyn's Brexit plan is nonsense but it piles the pressure on May. The text of Michael's letter as published reads:

Staying in the customs union is not enough to solve the problems of the Irish Border, the financial services industry or even supply chain manufacturing. For that we need also to stay in the single market and make other arrangements for the EU - almost like a Norway Plus Plus model.

A customs union does not remove the non-tariff barriers that hinder trade. Goods must be checked for conformity with standards. For example, a Polish lorry driver on route from Dublin to Belfast would need a visa. There is no benefit to trade in services, which is the UK's strength.

What we are seeing in Labour's move to support a customs union is not a real-world solution, just political positioning. As a region that is favourable towards Remain, London must not be fooled into supporting Labour's form of Brexit just because it would be negotiated by Sir Keir Starmer. The reality of Brexit will not reflect the promises made by Leave campaigners.

There should, however, be a referendum on the final deal with the option to Remain if the terms are unfavourable. Now that would be a Labour policy worth voting for.

I would point out that in the letter as sent to the Editor the call for a referendum on the final deal was unconditional. The phrase "if the terms are unfavourable" was added by the Evening Standard.



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