The General Election's Big Issues: Our Future Relationship with the EU

Megan Tomlinson - Writer

In this series of short articles, writers for InTuition will be looking at the biggest issues political parties need to deal with in the upcoming general election. In this article, Megan Tomlinson will look at the issue of our future relationship to the EU:

Following three years of political stagnation, the recent consensus over the Prime Minister’s deal in the House of Commons on 22nd October marks a possible turning point in the Brexit stalemate. Yet after all this time, the UK has only gently touched upon the future relationship of the UK with the European Union, having been preoccupied with the withdrawal process itself under Article 50. Therefore, election manifestos will provide a rare opportunity for political parties to give a clear standpoint on their ambitions for the future of UK trade policy.

Options for a trading model with the EU are vast; at their most skeletal, there is the fall-back option of membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), comprising of a series of minimal overarching global international trade agreements. Even this will prove a challenge, requiring the UK to agree its own schedule for tariffs, as well as failing to tackle non-tariff barriers to trade such as regulations and quotas. More complex arrangements would include a Free Trade Agreement with the removal of customs duties for goods between states, negotiated bilaterally such as the Canada model, or multilaterally such as the European Economic Area (the “Norway” model) or the European Free Trade Agreement (the “Swiss” model). Alternatively, the UK could negotiate to remain part of the Customs Union as Turkey has done, offering a Free Trade Area and a common external tariff, or negotiate a “deep and special” bespoke agreement as advocated by Theresa May. With such diverse options, political parties will be forced to take a stance on the closeness of our relationship with our European neighbours.

The withdrawal negotiations having monopolised debate since the 2016 referendum, the electorate’s eyes will now turn to the next step of Brexit looking towards the future relationship of the UK and the European Union.

Read more posts from the series on the General Election here.
teal flag under cloudy sky


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