A government document published on Friday night says the UK will seek to join "a free trade area for goods" with the EU, instead of full single market access. It says: "This would avoid friction at the border, protect jobs and livelihoods, and ensure both sides meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship." This would also see the UK agree to follow the same rules as Europe on goods, including agri-foods.
The services sector - which generates billions every year for the Treasury - would not be part of the new free trade area. The document says: "We would strike different arrangements for services, where it is in our interests to have regulatory flexibility, recognising the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets."
Mindful of accusations that leaving the EU will lead to a race to the bottom and a dilution of standards, the document says: "In keeping with our commitments to uphold international standards, the UK and the EU would also agree to 2 maintain high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change, social and employment, and consumer protection – meaning we would not let standards fall below their current levels."
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
Theresa May has made leaving the jurisdiction of the ECJ a Brexit red line. Instead of the current set-up, the document says: "The UK and the EU would establish a joint institutional framework to provide for the consistent interpretation and application of UK-EU agreements by both parties. This would be done in the UK by UK courts, and in the EU by EU courts – with due regard paid to EU case law in areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook."
The biggest cause of Cabinet disharmony has been a row over how to maintain tariff-free access to European markets while regaining the ability to strike free trade deals around the world. The document says: "The UK and the EU would work together on the phased introduction of a new Facilitated Customs Arrangement that would remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU as if a combined customs territory. The UK would apply the UK’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the UK, and the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU - becoming operational in stages as both sides complete the necessary preparations. This would enable the UK to control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world."
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
The document is clear that freedom of movement will end when Britain leaves the EU, but it hints that it will continue in some form. It says the new UK'/EU deal will "include a mobility framework so that UK and EU citizens can continue to travel to each other’s territories, and apply for study and work – similar to what the UK may offer other close trading partners in the future".