The striking thing about the British “Brexit” referendum was that the Leave side were suggesting that the UK could “have its cake and eat it”, by leaving the EU, no longer paying a membership fee yet enjoying all of the benefits of membership. In no aspect of anybody’s life has this ever been true (as a moment’s personal reflection will confirm), yet it was swallowed by enough of the electorate for the advisory poll to call for Brexit. Of course, the other members of the EU “club” may have something to say if one of their number wants to cancel their membership yet enjoy all of the privileges stemming from it.
The Leave argument was that the EU business community would want to continue to sell goods and services to the UK and so they would force their politicians to do “the sensible thing”, but this was to misunderstand the Single Market, Customs Union and political linkages within the EU community (as the Remain campaigners always said).
The EU has issued draft guidelines for their views of a post-Brexit relationship with the EU and it falls well short of the dreams of the Brexit die-hards. Whilst the EU is willing to offer a free trade agreement for goods, it is contingent upon the UK agreeing to maintain current arrangements over fishing rights. Any inclusion of services would be very limited and along the lines of existing EU-third party agreements. This will fall well short of the aspirations framed by the Chancellor only yesterday.
The draft envisages an agreement on aviation, but requires EU data protection rules to continue to apply in the UK. It also calls for continued partnership on defence, security and foreign policy, but it does not suggest that the UK would have veto powers in these areas.
The guidelines will be finalised by the bloc at the end of the month, but the draft would seem to fall very far short of the “bespoke, deep and special” relationship that the UK wants – Remainers would point out that the UK currently enjoys just such a relationship, of course.