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Sunday Politics show: why Anna Soubry was wrong

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I appeared on BBC TV’s Sunday Politics show last weekend, talking about the local election results and the Brexit negotiations. You can watch the whole show here.

On Brexit, I said this about the proposal for Britain to remain in a customs union with the EU (my remarks were kindly reported in the Express:)

“Either you are in the EU or you are not in the EU.The customs union is a way of keeping us in the EU by stealth and all those voters, all those millions of British voters, who voted for exiting the European Union will be looking on this with horror because they perceive this as a way of keeping us in the EU by stealth through the customs union fudge. It’s not a fudge.

The customs union, however you want to dress it up, to some extent or other keeps us within the EU rules, keeps us in within the single market rules, keeps us attached to the EU in a way the British people voted to leave.

Here we have the crunch that was always going to come because underlying the Brexit vote was the fact that you have Parliament versus the people, potentially.You have Parliament which is stuffed with Remainers, including the House of Lords, and you have the people who voted for Brexit.

People say the decision must rest with Parliament. But Parliament gave this decision to the British people. If Parliament is seen to be undermining the decision that it gave to the British people then the people’s faith in Parliament will be shattered forever.”

My remarks were then criticised by the arch-Remainer Tory MP Anna Soubry. As you can see in this clip below, she claimed I was wrong to say that by being in the customs union Britain would remain in the single market.

In fact I didn’t say that, rather that a customs union “to some extent or other keeps us within the EU rules, keeps us in within the single market rules”. In the next day’s Times (£), arch-brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg underlined my point:

“Asked why he objected to the customs partnership option, he told the ITV Peston on Sunday programme that it would in effect mean staying in the European Union. “The idea would be there would be a single point of entry for goods into the UK, any of which could then go on into the EU, subject to tariffs being reclaimed if they stayed in the UK,” he said. “But for that to work they’ve got to meet all the single market regulations as well, and therefore the customs partnership is in a sense misnamed, because it means single market as well as customs union and therefore we would not in effect be leaving the European Union.”

Precisely.

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