There's no '˜hard' or '˜soft' issue tonegotiate - it's just plain '˜Brexit'

These past few weeks there's been much talk about '˜hard and soft Brexit', being '˜in or out of the single market', and more besides with quite a few people getting into rather a lather over it all.

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:27 pm

Great swathes of column inches have been dedicated to the options, but I feel compelled to say just this: no such distinctions on how the UK will leave the EU actually exist.

There is no hard or soft, or in or out depending on which way you voted on June 23 – there’s just Brexit and what we negotiate.

The deal’s also not going to be ‘Norwegian’ or ‘Swiss’ – it’s going to be ‘UK’. It will be something that works for both us and the EU.

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Now, I fully understand people want to know what Brexit will entail and why they are worried about it.

This is why ‘hard and soft’ and other options have filled the narrative for a whole variety of reasons, ranging from those truly wanting to remain in the EU, to those truly wanting to make political capital out of the situation.

Thankfully, the prime minister is standing firm and has made it clear there won’t be a running commentary on our strategy and negotiation, and I couldn’t agree more.

The whole idea this government should show its hand, prior to triggering article 50 and the negotiations with our European partners, frankly beggars belief.

It would be akin to getting a builder around to quote for a new extension and them asking: ‘What’s the most you have you got to spend?’ and you telling them. Don’t be surprised when the quote comes back a fraction under the figure you so helpfully supplied.

So we have to be careful what we say, just like our European friends will be, because this is no small matter: this is about a deal for the UK that will give us prosperity, global free trade opportunities, security, partnership with Europe and control of our borders, our laws and our future.

And we can have all those things and more if we negotiate well, compromise, and yes; stand firm and stand up for ourselves when needed.

Finally, one Brexit myth centred on ‘we must have free movement of people or we won’t get access to the EU market’, was blown out of the water last month.

Canada has just signed a free trade deal with the EU and nowhere in it does it include the free movement of people between Europe and Canada.

So we’re not about to be inundated with friendly, maple syrup-loving people who say ‘aboot’ rather than ‘about’ and look dismayed when you ask where in the US they are from.

But we will be able to freely trade with them and there’s no reason why that can’t apply to the UK too post-Brexit.