As EU leaders became the latest group to join the coalition of the public and Conservative and Labour MPs to categorically express opposition to the Chequers proposals, the Institute for Economic Affairs launched their alternative, Plan A+ proposals, which redresses the faults of the Chequers proposals in delivering a Brexit that sees the UK take back control of its laws, borders and money.
It is worth noting that the Government’s Chequers proposals are riddled with pitfalls. In summary it retains membership of the single market for goods and agri-foods through its Common Rulebook, it rewords existing freedom of movement rules for a future mobility framework, and, through its commitment to continued UK membership of a swathe of EU agencies, a continued role for the European Court of Justice.
Therefore, in pursuit of an alternative that does not compromise on the wish of 17.4 million people for the UK to take back control of its laws, borders and money, the IEA’s Plan A+ models a future UK-EU relationship on an enhanced version of the EU-Canada CETA agreement. In doing so, the UK under the plan would regain a fully independent trade and regulatory policy for the first time in over forty years and would thus provide Britain the means to maximise the opportunities that Brexit brings.
On agriculture, Plan A+ does not commit to a Common Rulebook as Chequers outlines, but rather proposes to scrap quotas and tariffs on produce not produced in the UK, thereby allowing for cheaper produce to be imported to the UK from the rest of the world. This is assisted by a strategy to gradually liberalise tariffs, breaking down the protectionist barriers that inhibit increased volumes of trade and would likely have the consequence of further reducing prices and increasing choices for consumers.
Plan A+ adopts a similar approach to fisheries where tariffs would be lowered for seafood originating from outside UK waters, ensuring that prices are reduced, consumer choice increased and that British fisherman and are protected.
A pragmatic approach that does not compromise on the UK’s objectives to Brexit is necessary. Certainly, Plan A+ recognises that where EU agencies benefit the UK, mitigate against disruption and allow for the UK to retain control should see continued UK participation. One such example is the European Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA). Plan A+ proposes the UK remains a member of the agency as it would prevent any disruption to flights and aviation but yet not infringe on Britain’s ability to govern its airspace.
Further pragmatism can be observed in Plan A+’s proposals on immigration. Unlike Chequers, which commits to a rewording of existing freedom of movement rules, the IEA’s plan suggests a non-discriminatory skills-based policy to allow UK businesses to continue to have the wide scope of attracting the best talent and the highly skilled to contribute to Britain’s future outside the European Union.
Whether the prospect Britain changing its course in abandoning Chequers is uncertain, it is beyond question that the alternative Plan A+ delivers on the wishes of 17.4 million voters with its clear intention to agree a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, regain control over an independent trade and regulatory policy, but most saliently, reassert Parliament’s control over laws, borders and money.