1 December 2016

Stephen began by outlining his view of the direction of travel for the negotiations, stating that he thought remaining in customs union or the single market were not realistic long-term options:

It is a bilateral trade agreement or WTO.

 

In order to ensure the negotiations had the greatest chance of success, Stephen argued that:

We need to know from the Government before Article 50 is triggered what decisions it is going to take on the customs union and the single market.  Those decisions have to be made at the outset rather than throughout the Article 50 process.

He noted that the UK could not completely escape the fact the rest of the EU sees access to the single market and the immigration rights of EU citizens as part of a trade-off. However, Stephen highlighted the importance of maintaining an over-arching strategic perspective and ensuring the negotiations encompassed all facets of European cooperation:

We need to think about not only our relationship to the EU but our future relationship with the member nations and the Governments that comprise the European Union.  That is not simply going to cover the single market and migration; it is going to cover security, foreign policy, and our wider geopolitical interests.  With that kind of package, these trade-offs become different.  It is not simply about market access and immigration; it is about market access, immigration, and geopolitics.  That is a much broader discussion.  There is much more room for everyone to have a win-win solution in that kind of discussion, as opposed to a narrow one about the four freedoms.

You can read the full transcript of the session here, or view a recording of the proceedings here.