The IFS has a new report out on membership of vs. access to the Single Market. It's welcome that they've finally grasped the distinction. But it's incredible they still think staying in the Single Market is possible after the clear vote to leave the EU.
During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave consistently showed that Britain doesn't need to be a member of the Single Market to trade with it. Few pundits seemed to understand the point, let alone make it. Yet the distinction is critical.
Single Market membership means 100% of UK businesses are bound by Single Market rules – even though only 6% of UK businesses export to the Single Market.
Access means trade goes on, but only those 6% have to comply with Single Market rules. That will lift a huge regulatory burden on the domestic economy.
But the IFS not only discounts the economic benefits of leaving the Single Market. It also maintains the fiction that remaining in it is consistent with the mandate from the electorate.
Over 17 million people clearly voted to take back control of their laws. That means leaving the Single Market. No amount of "expert" sophistry can change that. There can be no backsliding.
Despite recognising a distinction between access and membership, the IFS misrepresents what access means. It presents the options as binary: either free trade as a Single Market member, or WTO tariffs.
But there is of course a third option: a UK-EU deal to maintain free trade. An entire government department has been created to negotiate an agreement. Yet somehow the IFS seems to discount it as a serious possibility.
At this point, some "experts" like to point out that not being a member of the Single Market means we don't get a say on the rules. That's a misnomer too.
First of all, it's doubtful we ever had much of a say over the rules – as one 28th of a bloc.
More importantly, regulatory convergence has gone global. Rules on finance or pharmaceuticals aren't made in regional blocs, but in worldwide trade bodies.
Leaving the EU allows Britain to regain her voice in international regulatory bodies – like the World Trade Organisation. We will now have more of a say on the international rules affecting our key industries, not less.
The IFS spent the referendum campaign stumping for Project Fear. They now seem to be a surrogate for the denialists of continuity Remain. It's well-known that they receive EU funding. Reports like this don't do much for their credibility.
What a pity that, six weeks since the referendum, pundits and "experts" still won't take seriously the points that Vote Leave made, and over 17 million people voted for.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
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