Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ireland Brings Home the Folly of Mrs May's Choices; Comment / Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ireland Brings Home the Folly of Mrs May's Choices; Comment / Established 1827

Article excerpt

POLITICIANS are prisoners of the choices they make. The humiliation of the Prime Minister in Brussels yesterday, forced in front of the world to turn around and go home because she did not have the authority to sign a deal on behalf of her country, was not the fault of the EU, or caused by the intransigence of the Irish, or because the DUP were unreasonable. It was a direct consequence of decisions made by Mrs May and her government last year.

The British people were asked only one question in the referendum: "should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?" It was Mrs May's government that chose to interpret the result as a decision to leave not only the European Union but the single market and the customs union too. They are not synonymous. Norway is in the single market, and Turkey is in the customs union, but neither are members of the European Union.

Of course, there is a price to be paid if you are part of the single market or customs union but not in the EU. You have less influence over regulations that affect your country and its businesses. Yet the likes of Norway and Turkey, and Switzerland through bilateral agreement, are proud of their sovereignty but believe it is a price worth paying for the frictionless access you get to the European market.

Our Government, with no detailed analysis, or any careful weighing of the options, simply asserted that it was not a price worth paying. It told us being outside the single market gave us the chance to cut red tape, and that leaving the customs union meant we could strike trade deals with the rest of the world. Never mind that every idea from the Government since the vote has been for more red tape, and no trade deal being suggested even if passed can make good the loss of trade with Europe.

Border What the Government didn't tell us was that this approach inevitably meant a hard border with the Irish Republic, because the two countries on either side of it would have different regulations. …

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