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Road to Brexit? It leads to Remain

Every step of the way, in trying to resolve the contradictions of the doomed Brexit project, Britain is being led along a path, where EU membership is the logical conclusion.

Let's start with the premise of the hardline Brexiteers' preferred outcome of leaving the EU and breaking off all ties - no EU membership, ending Freedom of Movement, leaving the Customs Union, leaving the Single Market.

Problem: at this point we'd have a hard border in Ireland. All sides have declared this would be unacceptable and would be a terrible step backwards for the UK and Ireland.

Solution: stay in the Customs Union, but outside Common Commercial Policy, allowing for an open border in Ireland and for independent trade deals to be pursued.

Problem: well, in theory we could pursue independent trade deals, but we will have tied the tariff rate for goods to the rate set by the EU. Most other countries will be asking for reductions in tariffs on goods, not deals on services (deals which are particularly difficult to get anyway).
We'd be in the same position as Turkey, following in the EU's shadow and often only getting worse versions of the same deal (because when the EU drops tariffs following a trade deal, Turkey has to follow even though they have yet to get a trade deal of their own, meaning that when they try to negotiate one they have little bargaining power).

Solution: stay in the Common Commercial Policy and benefit from the collective bargaining power of one of the biggest markets on Earth.

Problem: now, however, even theoretical benefits to trade from Brexit are gone. With no independent trade deals the only difference will have been to raise trade barriers with the EU as a result of leaving the Single Market. Even an EU-UK free trade agreement would not resolve this as it could never cover services to the same extent as the Single Market does.

Solution: stay in the Single Market.

Problem: the UK would be in a position where we would be taking on many of the same rules as EU members, including Freedom of Movement, but with only a very minor say on what those rules are. There would be a considerable democratic deficit.

Solution: stay in the EU and retain the democratic representation in the Council and European Parliament as well as our own Commissioner.

Bonus Problem: how to account for the 2016 referendum?

Bonus Solution: hold a referendum on the government's final Brexit deal.


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