Atakan Uzun

What is Britain’s problem with the Customs Union option?

Europa United welcomes Atakan Uzun to our team of contributors and in his first piece for us, Atakan asks what frightens Britain so much about being in the Customs Union or Single Market?

The Brexit referendum campaign and the deadlock have dominated the past three years of international and European politics in general.
The referendum campaign on both sides was overly poor at facilitating debate with the leave side of the campaign telling constant lies about how the British economy would flourish once they left the European Union while the remain side of the campaign not doing enough to promote European Union membership for Britain. The blame for the entire referendum being held lies solely on David Cameron’s shoulders after he promised the British electorate, a referendum on European Union membership if they would vote for the Conservative Party in the 2015 General Election because he was, in fact, afraid of losing 15 seats or so to the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP). In the end, surprisingly to David Cameron, the Tories got a landslide victory which meant that Cameron delivered on his promise to hold a Brexit referendum but without a proper plan in place if the leave side was to win the referendum.

CU membership would resolve the border issue post Brexit

In fact, it turned out this way and since, there has been no sufficient plan in place to solve the current Brexit deadlock with Britain meant to leave the European Union, exactly a week from now on the 29th May, but will end up leaving on the 12th April at the earliest if Theresa May’s Brexit deal gets rejected once again in the House Of Commons or the 22nd May if it gets passed. This would mean that the British government would not have to send candidates to take part in the European elections. The question now is , why hasn’t Theresa May and the Tory party failed to negotiate a proper Brexit deal and why she doesn’t explore a Turkey or Norway style deal relationship with the European Union in broad detail.


The Norway option – what’s what’s wrong with it?

One reason could be is that Theresa May and the British government is not negotiating a Turkey or Norway style relationship with the European Union is because Theresa May is afraid of upsetting the ERG (European Research Group) within her own Tory party who are prominent Brexiteers and do not want to upset the prominent Brexiteers within the House Of Commons. This would mean that the British government would not have to send candidates to take part in the European elections. Could it be that Theresa May doesn’t explore a future relationship and deal with the European Union like that of Turkey or Norway is because she is incompetent herself and doesn’t really know how to carry on with the Brexit process? Theresa May is currently at a crossroads with many people in Britain wanting her to revoke Article 50 which would allow for a second Brexit referendum as well as people on the leave side, calling for her to go for a hard Brexit which wouldn’t involve a proper future relationship with the European Union. The problem with these hard Brexiteers is that they believe that WTO (World Trade Organization) rules will automatically apply for Britain and will improve the British economy, yet they are completely wrong because Britain would have to pay up to 30% on tariffs on imports if they crash out of the European Union with a no deal Brexit. Many people also say that the British economy would suffer a lot more under WTO regulations. I also believe that it is not helpful that Theresa May is pointing the finger at MPs within the House Of Commons because it was solely her responsibility and the Conservative government’s responsibility to deliver a proper Brexit deal which would be the best possible thing for Britain and the European Union.

The Customs Union trade secret

The fact is that Norway and Turkey haven’t got unique trade relationships with the European Union as Norway are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) which celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, which has allowed countries which are not member states of the European Union that are in Europe, to have free trade with member states of the European Union. This has been facilitated with countries such as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein being part of the single market but not the political customs union. This also begs the question to what I discussed earlier: why hasn’t Theresa May negotiated a Norway style deal which would allow Britain to be part of the European Economic Area (EEA) which would mean that they would be part of the single market. Turkey has a different kind of trade relationship with the European Union. Turkey has a free trade relationship with the European Union which is basically a free tariff relationship on both sides. The relationship between the European Union and Turkey has increased for many years with the migrant deal being proof of this. There has also been recent talk of visa free travel from Turkey to member states of the European Union and vice versa. Overall, it’s embarrassing that Theresa May hasn’t been able to deliver a sufficient Brexit deal like that of Norway or Turkey who have close relationships with the European Union but are not member states of the European Union.

An excellent graph showing them overall picture of trade in Europe

Brexit Deadlock – what’s the solution?

I overly reckon that the most sufficient solution to this Brexit deadlock is for Theresa May to hold her hands up and apologise for the failure of her government to deliver Brexit and bring it back to the people by revoking Article 50 which would allow for a second Brexit referendum. It is clear that the Brexiteers want a hard Brexit which would possibly mean a no deal Brexit without a future relationship being negotiated with the European Union. It is clear that Britain and the European Union do not want a no deal Brexit which means that the Brexiteers aren’t going to get the Brexit deal that they always dreamed of, because Britain and the European Union want a deal with a close future relationship (hopefully). That means that the House of Commons should take back control and call for a revoke of Article 50 which would allow for a second Brexit referendum. It is clear to me that if a second Brexit referendum was to be held, the British electorate would overly vote to remain in the European Union. Let’s look at Ireland for example, the first version of the Lisbon Treaty was rejected in 2008 but Lisbon Treaty II was later passed in 2009 after Ireland were able to get concessions from the European Union in relation to neutrality. This is the only sufficient solution to the Brexit deadlock or else, Britain is going to live to regret not revoking Article 50 for many years .

The lesson on Brexit is, plan before you execute.

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