Clean Brexit

Document type
Halligan, Liam; Lyons, Gerard
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
16 January 2017
Social Policy, Legislation
Social welfare
Material type

Download (744KB )

This paper proposes key negotiating principles for the government to set out before it triggers Article 50, the formal mechanism for leaving the European Union. The Prime Minister has pledged to trigger Article 50 before the end of March 2017, meaning that Britain must formally leave the EU, at the latest, by March 2019. While there is much talk of 'Hard Brexit' versus 'Soft Brexit' these labels do little to clarify the issues involved. The authors suggest the Government should declare now that it prefers a Clean Brexit. This would be a clean break, with the UK leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union. The paper explores how to make this work and urges the following measures:

  • Explicitly rule out remaining in the EU's Single Market and Customs Union
  • Offer the other 27 EU nations a deal to carry on trading under existing tariff-free arrangements, but make clear the UK is also happy with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules — and that if the EU imposes WTO tariffs on the UK, the UK will reciprocate
  • Insist that the UK will negotiate free trade agreements with the rest of the world, even while remaining in the EU, to come into effect when Britain leaves
  • Put the 'Great Repeal Bill', highlighted by the Prime Minister, before Parliament now to ensure continuity for businesses.

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