Back to the Future with Common Market 2.0

Common Market 2.0
Back to the Future with Common Market 2.0

The Labour Party will order its MPs to support the so-called Common Market 2.0 plan during tonight’s indicative votes, a sources say.

What is Common Market 2.0:

The plan would pave the way for a much softer Brexit than that preferred by many in Theresa May’s Conservative Party, as it retains strong economic ties to the EU.

It also has a strong nod to history. The UK joined what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 – and voted to remain a member in a 1975 referendum. The leader of the Conservative party, Margaret Thatcher, then in opposition, was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the bloc, which was much more of a free-trade area than a political union. At the time, it was widely known as the Common Market.

The EEC is exactly what socialist like Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner and Peter Shore campaigned against in the 1975 referendum.

See history of the Labour Party

Labour hold the first referendum on the EEC and campaigned to leave.

Under the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, there was a UK referendum on continued membership of the EEC in 1975. The electorate voted ‘Yes’ by 67.2% to 32.8% to stay in Europe.

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The Member of Parliament who has put forward Common Market 2.0, Nick Boles, happens to be a Conservative.

No doubt, the name of the plan was carefully chosen to appeal to Euroskeptic Conservatives, who A) have less of a problem with free trade than they do with loss of political sovereignty and B) a keen sense of political nostalgia.

Labour’s support could yet be a problem. It’s an open secret that any deal relying for success on Labour could split the Conservative Party. So while Common Market 2.0 might win the show tonight, it’s seems unlikely to be adopted as government policy.

It’s not just the Conservatives who are worried about cross-party unity: Labour sources are sceptical about doing anything that might ultimately help a Conservative plan pass. “Expect abstentions and votes against from Labour MPs,”

What is involved in Common Market 2.0?

  • The UK accepts the current draft Withdrawal Agreement but renegotiates the Political Declaration and agrees that a Norway style deal will be the basis of our future relationship with the European Union


  • At the end of the transition, the UK joins the European Free Trade Association (Efta) but negotiates a derogation so that the UK does not have to participate in Efta’s free trade agreements and can maintain a comprehensive customs arrangement with the EU


  • On its accession to Efta, the UK moves into the Efta pillar of the European Economic Area (EEA), the common market that binds the economies of the EU with the economies of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein


  • At the same time the UK joins a comprehensive customs arrangement with the EU, which maintains a Common External Tariff and makes it possible to maintain frictionless trade and no hard border in Ireland


  • As soon as the UK’s membership of the EEA has been reactivated by our accession to Efta, the backstop protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement falls away


  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and joins the Efta Court


  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy


  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy and becomes an independent coastal state


  • After December 2020 the UK remains in the Single Market and can take part in “decision-shaping” for new Single Market regulations and directives


  • After December 2020 the UK remains subject to freedom of movement but has a new reserve power which might be used to impose temporary limits on immigration if “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties” arise


  • After December 2020 the UK remains outside the Schengen ‘open borders’ regime

What are the advantages of Common Market 2.0?

It is the only other deal that the EU is ready to sign up to

  • EEA and Efta already exist so joining them wouldn’t require the negotiation of a bespoke set of arrangements
  • Unlike a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the EU could agree to a Norway style deal straight away
  • The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and both the Irish and Norwegian Prime Ministers have all spoken in favour of the idea
It is the only deal that can win a Parliamentary majority
  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA, no deal or a second referendum, Common Market 2.0 is likely to secure the support of a majority of MPs
  • Common Market 2.0 would deliver the result of the 2016 referendum without much delay
  • Common Market 2.0 provides a platform from which we could negotiate a longer-term deal securing greater control
It is the only alternative deal that would protect jobs and preserve the union of the UK
  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA and no deal, a Norway style deal would prevent a hard border in Ireland
  • Common Market 2.0 would protect manufacturing supply chains and jobs, and maintain frictionless trade with the EU
  • Common Market 2.0 would not require Northern Ireland to accept different rules than the rest of the UK

But is it Brexit?

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