Rishi Sunak warned of key Brexit freedom in danger over Single Market

Brexit politics has 'overruled' economics says Fabian Zuleeg

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Rishi Sunak has been facing growing calls for the UK to rejoin the European Union’s Single Market from several Conservative MPs and businesses. While MPs have argued Single Market membership would solve the Northern Ireland Protocol issue, businesses said re-joining the EU’s market would scrap the Brexit red tapes and its mounting export costs. However, the Prime Minister has been warned the move would put one Brexit freedom in jeopardy.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre said: “It’s important to recognise that Single Market membership comes with obligations. 

“It’s not simply a question of being part of the market. It’s also having the four freedoms and implementing the rules which are there.

“The Single Market rules are very clear and they apply to all countries whether they are European Union members or not like countries such as Norway.

“They all have to follow the four freedoms: freedom of movement, of capital, of services, of goods but also people.”

Dr Zuleeg said: “It’s part of the whole logic of the Single Market. 

“On top of that, and I think this would also be a challenge for the British political system, Single Market membership means accepting the rules. 

“It essentially means you have to become a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker.

“So, it is very challenging for a big powerful country with a complex economy to accept that others will make the rules for them.”

Inside the EU Single Market, the UK would have to open its borders to the 27 EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In effect, it would mean the free flow of trade and people across the UK and the Single Market’s member states.

Earlier this year, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood sparked backlash from Brexiteers after suggesting Brtain re-joining the EU’s Single Market would help ease the cost-of-living crisis. 

In an article for the House parliamentary magazine, Mr Ellwood argued membership would not only help the country’s economy recover but also solve the Northern Ireland Protocol issue. 

“Economically speaking, there is vast room for improvement. The OBR calculates, in its current form, that Brexit is reducing our GDP by four per cent. This compares to around 1.5 per cent caused by Covid,” he said in his call on government to “better maximise our Brexit fortune”.

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Despite the case for economic growth inside the EU’s Single Market, Chancellor jeremy Hunt has rejected calls for Britain to re-join the market, arguing that most obstacles can be removed over time. 

Speaking to BBC radio before his budget announcement, the Chancellor said: “I have great confidence that over the years ahead, we will find outside the single market we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU. It’ll take time, there’s a transition as you deliver something like Brexit which obviously people have voted for, and we must make a great success of.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s the right way to boost growth, because it would be against what people were voting for when they supported Brexit, which was to have control of our borders, and membership of the single market requires free movement of people, so I think we can find other ways that will more than compensate for those advantages.”

The UK’s economy is set to grow slower than every G20 economy apart from Russia in 2023, the OECD forecast, with inflation set to squeeze incomes and further taxes expected to weaken economic activity.

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