Douglas Carswell

02 JAN 2013

Common Market or quit - what does it actually mean?

Contrary to expectation, it seems that we Eurosceptics agree.  Far from fractious, the main body of Eurosceptic opinion has now come together behind a common position; either the UK should revert to a Common Market relationship with the EU – or we should quit.

Having a Common Market relationship with the rest of the EU would mean no more British MEPs or Commissioners or UKREP. We would no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of the Euro courts. Laws made by those we elect would take precedence over those churned out by Brussels.

But let us be clear what Common-Market-or-quit does not mean. It emphatically is not the same as Single-Market-or-quit.

If we were to withdraw from the Eurosystem, but remain part of the Single Market, we would have to conform to all manner of rules and regulations made by the Eurosystem. It is not just that we would have no say in making such rules (not that we have much say now). Nor is it just that many so-called Single Market rules – such as the 48-hour week – are actually social and employment law masquerading as Single Market measures.

The real problem with retaining a residual requirement to conform to Single Market rules, after withdrawing from all the rest, is that UK firms would still have to conform to Single Market rules even if they have no intention of exporting to the Single Market at all. It has become a pretext to introduce growth-sapping regulation.  It has given a license to corporatism, where big companies lobby to fix the rules to their advantage.

Approximately 80 percent of all economic activity in the UK is UK focused. About 20 percent is export focused. Of that 20 percent, less than half – about 8 percent - is focused on exporting to the Single Market.

It is bizarre that we should have to comply 100 percent with Single Market rules when only 8 percent of economic activity is EU orientated.  Why must an Essex-based firm have to comply with European Single Market rules even if it has no intention of exporting to Europe, but is looking to sell to India, China, or Norfolk instead? To be globally competitive, this has to change.

We Eurosceptics understand this. Let's hope those formulating government policy in Whithehall do so too.

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