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Forget all this talk about a hard or soft Brexit. There is only one Brexit on the menu, and it’s scrambled. The hard or soft labels have always been meaningless in describing the manner of our departure from the EU, and the election has made the descriptions more vacuous not less.
For the truth is that Brexit was always going to be scrambled: a frothy concoction of deals from quotas for skilled workers to maybe paying for market access in financial services to bartering on security.
Everything is up for grabs from “euroclearing” transactions in the City, to which agencies will stay where. And we have a pretty strong hand with which to whip the eggs – as one of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group, the UK is the only intelligence superpower member of the EU and plays a critical role in Europol. And we have Europe’s deepest and most liquid capital market which benefits the eurozone countries as much as it does us.
So there’s much to barter with that gives benefits to both sides. That is what negotiations are about. But the fundamentals have not changed. Not even the election has managed to do that despite the latest calls for a “softer” Brexit. Just as you can’t be half pregnant, a soft Brexit is not Brexit as it would mean the UK staying in the single market without any control over our borders. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour appear to be willing to budge on that.
Nor does a softer Brexit mean a half-way house with the UK staying in the Customs Union as this that would preclude us from striking our own Free Trade Agreements with the rest of the world – one of the main reasons for Brexit in the first place and the long-term upside in terms…