THE Cabinet meets today at last to decide what “deal” it will propose to the EU for negotiation. It should be a no brainer: the only deal that achieves free trade with the EU and is compatible with leaving is an improved version of the one just signed with Canada known as “Canada+”.
If the Government takes the so-called Norway option it effectively means we do not leave but lose all EU voting powers. This is clearly beyond the pale.
So what is all the argument about? It seems Cabinet ministers simply cannot understand how it works to be a ‘third country’ like so many around the world not in the EU.
They and ‘Big Business’ are terrified that it is a lawless world out there beyond the EU’s remit: the EU can suddenly erect borders that do not work properly and create new standards with which our exports are incompatible.
Even to write this down sounds like Alice Through the Looking Glass.
The EU has, rightly, dismissed this Fourth Way as incomprehensible and inconsistent with any known legal status.
But leave that on one side and consider the economics.
Firstly, these ‘barriers’ the EU could erect simply do not exist because they are illegal under international rules.
So there is no need for a Fourth Way to avoid fictitious threats.
Second, part of this Fourth Way is a complex ‘New Customs Partnership’ which fatally undermines our ability to strike Free Trade Agreements with non-EU countries.
Bang go our lucrative free trade agreements!
If any of my students were to propose such nonsense, they would get an instant Fail.
To read Patrick Minford’s piece for the Daily Express in full, click here.