David Davis believed the UK ought to stay in the Customs Union after leaving the EU, and called the Single Market a success – despite now leading the Government’s effort to leave both the Customs Union and the Single Market, it has been revealed.
In a speech in 2012, the Brexit Secretary said that “my preference would be that we should remain within the Customs Union of the EU”, even if this meant the UK would have to “give up some freedoms in terms of negotiating our trading arrangements with third countries.”
He added that staying in the Customs Union – which allows for the free movement of goods within its borders, and maintains a common tariff on imports – would be advantageous for Britain because businesses would “not face complex and punitive ‘rules of origin’ tariffs”, and because it would allow “true free trade in both directions across the Channel.”
Mr Davis also praised the Single Market as one of the EU’s “successes”. However, he is now leading the Government’s charge to leave both the Customs Union and Single Market – despite the warnings that this will damage the UK economy.
Previously, it has been revealed that Mr Davis’ special adviser, Raoul Ruparel, formerly of the Open Europe think tank, had calculated that leaving the Customs Union would cost the UK economy £25bn a year.
Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, Chair of Vote Leave Watch, said:
“The news that as little as five years ago David Davis supported UK membership of the Customs Union after Brexit should shake the faith of this Tory Government in the hard Brexit path they are pursuing.
“The 2012 version of David Davis recognised the real problems that could emerge if we leave the Customs Union. Businesses will be hit by ‘punitive’ rules of origin, which vastly increase tariffs and red tape on companies trying to export to the EU.
“Leaving the Customs Union and Single Market will clearly be bad for business, bad for trade, and bad for jobs here in Britain.
“The Brexit Secretary needs to explain why he has changed his mind, why we should be leaving the Single Market and Customs Union when he admits they have been ‘successes’, and what evidence his department has that doing so will not damage our economy.
“David Davis’ u-turn suggests that he knows the Government’s course is self-defeating, but he, like the Prime Minister, has been taken hostage by the hard right of the Tory party.”
Notes to editors:
On the Customs Union, Mr Davis said: “My preference would be that we should remain within the Customs Union of the EU. What this means is that we would have to maintain a common external tariff barrier (only about 2.4% on non agricultural goods) and give up some freedoms in terms of negotiating our trading arrangements with third countries. The advantage would be that our manufacturers would not face complex and punitive “rules of origin” tariffs if parts of their products were made in, say, China. That would also be the arrangement that would allow true free trade in both directions across the Channel, so Continental manufacturers would benefit and therefore prefer it.”
On the Single Market, Mr Davis said: “The EU began with the best of intentions, but has not achieved the best of outcomes. It has enjoyed some successes, namely the single market and of course the enlargement which has brought a number of countries with troubled histories into the modern, democratic world, most recently the eastern European nations.”
The link to the full speech is here: http://www.daviddavismp.com/david-davis-mp-delivers-speech-on-the-opportunities-for-a-referendum-on-europe/
Davis has confirmed Britain will leave the Customs Union: When asked “will the Secretary of State confirm today we are not only leaving the single market and the EU, we are definitely leaving the customs union?”, David Davis responded: “If he continues to read that page, it confirms that we 'will not be bound by the EU’s Common External Tariff or participate in the Common Commercial Policy', which amounts to exactly that, what he said” (House of Commons, 02 February 2017).
Davis has confirmed Britain will leave the Single Market: “The truth is that leaving the European Union does involve leaving the single market” (House of Commons, 30 March 2017).
David Davis’ own special adviser, Raoul Ruparel, calculated before his appointment that leaving the Customs Union would cost the UK economy £25bn a year: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/11/government-adviser-leaving-eu-customs-union-uk-25bn.
Studies by the Treasury, the LSE and NIESR have found that leaving the Customs Union could lead to a fall in UK GDP per capita of 4.5% by 2030: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-theresa-may-britain-lose-45-gdp-eu-customs-union-a7369181.html. It has been estimated that leaving the Customs Union could cost UK exporters an extra £12.7bn a year in complying with new trade rules: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/20/cbi-brexit-lengthy-transition-period. Leaving the Customs Union would also burden UK exporters and importers with another 60 million pieces of paperwork per year: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/11/uk-firms-face-more-not-less-red-tape-if-britain-exits-customs-union.