post brexit we must exit single market and stop free movement of people to the UK.

Britain has world of opportunity after Brexit, says JACOB REES-MOGG

By Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset

LEAVING the EU is the greatest economic opportunity for the United Kingdom since the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

To obtain this benefit we must leave completely and not romanticise about either the customs union or the single market. These have been the manacles and shackles of our membership. It is the single market that has led to the vast expansion of European Union power into the minutiae of our lives.

Its rules are brought in under the complex system of qualified majority voting which prevents our Government from stopping silly actions. It has been the excuse for harmonising regulations across the EU and it brings with it the free movement of people. The little inconveniences of daily existence are often caused by single market regulation.

The ban on ordinary light bulbs is an example as is the insistence on the metric system as opposed to the British form of weight and measures. There has never been any good reason for such uniformity, it has all been about building the Brussels Empire. Yet it has major effects as well. Immigration has been the most contentious political issue to which there is no answer within the single market.

It seems that the inflow has been greater than previously measured with recent reports indicating a further 800,000 arrivals on top of those previously known to be here as tax and national insurance records are reconciled with the Office for National Statistics surveys. As the EU has so far made it clear that we cannot remain within the single market without free movement we ought to leave it with a spring in our step.

As the case involving Ireland and Apple has highlighted over the past few days the EU also uses the single market to interfere in tax law. The UK has already lost a number of cases in the European Court of Justice and repaid £7.9 billion between 2005-2014 to companies that had been taxed legally under British law but then persuaded the ECJ to overturn the will of Parliament.

It is thought that such payments could reach £50 billion, which is a material consideration against our current annual deficit. In addition to this there is the cost of the membership fee for the single market as it has been proposed that if we want to remain a member we must continue to make contributions to the EU budget.

This would both be expensive and go against the clear demand of the referendum that we want our money back. The customs union comes as part of the single market and is essentially the electric fence to keep out foreign competition. It allows us to sell goods to the continent without taxes but puts a common tariff on all imports into the UK.

Remaining within it would keep these tariffs thus removing the other major economic reason for leaving. Tariffs are imposed to protect domestic industry but instead they push up prices for consumers. Anyone in the UK who buys a Japanese car has to pay a 10 per cent tariff which, in addition to VAT, makes it 12 per cent more expensive than a similar German car.


This allows German car manufacturers to profit at the expense of the British consumer. As we have a large deficit on international trade, adding costs to our own people is folly. Manufactured goods, food and chemicals would all be cheaper if we offered free trade to the rest of the world.

This would be a boon for the economy: individuals would then have spare cash to spend or to save while businesses would have lower input costs reducing prices further to consumers. In 1846 the cry for those who wanted to repeal the Corn Laws was “cheap bread”, today it would be “cheaper everything”.

Protectionism does not in the long run protect anyone from anything, leading to inefficiency and high prices, but it is what the customs union does and so must be rejected. During the Brexit campaign all the experts said that the country would be ruined if we left. Two months on and the world has not ended, indeed it has been a pleasant summer with a thrilling Test Match series.

Still the doomsters go on but fortunately Mrs May is giving them short shrift and has taken immediate steps to maximise our advantages. The point of Brexit is that the EU is rotten like a fallen apple full of wasps and worms.

It is rotten in its bureaucracy and contempt for voters, it is rotten in its ambition to be a state but it is also rotten in the basic structures of the single market and customs union. The opportunity for the UK is away from this and to grow in economic freedom, putting the interests of consumers first.