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Disbenefits of the UK’s Single Market Membership

July 16th, 2018

Letter to The Times from Stephen Bush, published on July 14th 2018

Nigel Henson (July 11th) is dead right to correct David Smith’s (July 10th) implied view that the electorate’s motive for voting to leave the EU was primarily economic. It was actually a vote for independence.

But it is also necessary to correct Mr Smith’s view of the economic benefits of our membership of the “Single Market”. The latest ONS confirmed trade data (for 2016) give a UK goods (mainly manufactures) trade deficit with the EU of 95.6 Billion GBP having grown remorselessly from 5 Billion GBP in 1992, the year of the inauguration of the Single Market.

Over the same period of 24 years the USA grew its goods exports to the EU by over 40% in constant dollar (i.e. real) price terms without any special access, just paying the tariffs on its goods whilst conforming  to EU standards. In the same period the UK with all the supposed benefits of single market access increased its goods exports by a tiny 5% on the same constant dollar price terms.

In the face of such figures, it is the sheerest lunacy for the UK to propose paying the EU anything for either leaving it on March 29th or adopting some form of modified single market access for the future, as proposed by Mrs May last Friday.