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Mar 17th, 2018

Customs Union?

By Becca McCarthy

MPs are in a massive row about Brexit. [1] They’re split on the issue of a ‘customs union’ with the EU. That’s an agreement that’d make it easier for us to trade with EU countries, but make it harder for us to strike independent trade deals with other parts of the world after we Brexit. [2] It sounds like jargon, but it could affect our everyday lives, from jobs to the cost of our weekly shop. [3]

What our MPs decide in the next few weeks could change the future of Brexit. But right now, the decision hangs in the balance. That means MPs’ constituents – people like you and me! – have a lot of power.

Together, it’s up to us to decide if 38 Degrees should get involved in this debate. We could choose to pick a side. Or we could choose to be neutral and focus on other campaigns.

Please will you fill out this short survey to help decide what 38 Degrees should do about the customs union? We’ll only campaign on this if 75% or more of us agree it’s the right thing for 38 Degrees.

TAKE THE SURVEY

38 Degrees members – that’s people like you and me who sign petitions and email MPs – decided together to stay neutral on the EU referendum. But this is a fresh decision, because being part of a customs union is a different choice – about the kind of Brexit we want.

38 Degrees is made up of different people, with different backgrounds, from all over the UK. We didn’t all vote the same way in the EU referendum. Some of us voted Leave, and some of us voted Remain.

Since the results were announced, we’ve been working together to make sure Brexit is as people-powered as possible. And it’s working: last year, hundreds of thousands of us forced Theresa May to back down on plans to give herself the power to rewrite UK laws behind closed doors after Brexit. [7] It’s proof that when we come together, we can shape Brexit.

 

And if you’d like more information on what the Customs Union is – read below:


If we were in a customs union:* [4]

• UK companies that trade with the EU would be able to do business with Europe more easily – because they wouldn’t be subject to customs checks or have any extra fees to pay.

• Companies from countries in the EU wouldn’t have to pay extra fees to sell products in the UK either. That means the price of European products we buy in the shops should be similar to what we pay now.

• But we wouldn’t get to arrange our own trade deals with non-EU countries, unless we negotiate with the EU to do so.

• The UK might need to meet new conditions to be part of a customs union without being an EU member, but won’t have formal voting power in the EU.

If we weren’t in a customs union:* [5]

• The UK could negotiate its own trade deals with other non-EU countries independently.

• The UK would have more control over how we trade with the rest of the world, decided by our government.

• It could be more difficult for UK companies to do business in Europe, because they would have extra work to comply with EU regulations, and might have to pay extra fees to sell products in countries part of the EU.

• Products coming from European countries into the UK could cost more, because they could have extra fees attached to them for coming into the UK.

*This is based on us entering and leaving a customs union that is the same as the one we are currently in. (Thanks to Full Fact, the independent fact-checking charity, for their input on this list.) [6]

NOTES:
[1] Bloomberg: Pro-EU Tory Rebellion Grows Further as May Ever More Boxed In:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/uk-tory-rebellion-on-customs-union-grows-to-ten-lawmakers
The Sun: BLOCKED BID: Downing Street rejects the Treasury’s proposal to end Cabinet row, temporarily keep UK in EU Customs Union after Brexit:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5509404/downing-street-rejects-the-treasurys-proposal-to-end-cabinet-row-temporarily-keep-uk-in-eu-customs-union-after-brexit/
Evening Standard: Tory rebels tell May: We’ll halt Britain’s exit from a customs union:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tory-rebels-tell-may-we-ll-halt-britain-s-exit-from-a-customs-union-a3774131.html
[2] The Independent: Customs union: What is it, what would leaving it mean and what post-Brexit alternatives are there?:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/customs-union-what-is-eu-brexit-single-market-alternatives-labour-corbyn-speech-a8228696.html
The Daily Mail: Business group calls for a Turkey-style ‘partial’ customs union covering only industry and processed food:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5399071/Business-lobby-group-calls-partial-customs-union.html
[3] The Independent: Customs union: What is it, what would leaving it mean and what post-Brexit alternatives are there?:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/customs-union-what-is-eu-brexit-single-market-alternatives-labour-corbyn-speech-a8228696.html

[4] UK in a Changing Europe: What would retaining membership of the EU customs union mean for the UK?:
http://ukandeu.ac.uk/fact-figures/what-would-retaining-membership-of-the-eu-customs-union-mean-for-the-uk/
CBI: Customs Union:
http://www.cbi.org.uk/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=D7C5FEA1-29FF-4302-85FA61236F02FF98
Institute for Fiscal Studies: How might Brexit affect food prices?:
https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9562
[5] Institute for Government: Implementing Brexit: Customs:
https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/IfG_Brexit_customs_WEB_0.pdf
Institute for Fiscal Studies: How might Brexit affect food prices?:
https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9562
[6] Full Fact is an independent and non-partisan fact-checking charity. They’re an organisation who use primary sources and consult experts to check claims made by politicians, the media and pressure groups. You can find out more about Full Fact and the work they do on their website:
https://fullfact.org/
[7] 38 Degrees blog: Delegated powers: We won!
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2017/12/13/delegated-powers-won/

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