A damning report accused politicians of being under an “illusion” that being in the EU Single Market is so vital to the UK that its principles must be preserved after Brexit.
A vision Theresa May agree with ministers at her Chequers residence in July would see the UK and EU observe a “common rule book” for trade in goods.
That effectively amounts to staying in the single market, leaving Britain forced to obey rules it has no say over while hampering our ability to make new trade agreements around the world, warned a report by pro-Brexit think tank Global Britain.
“Moreover it risks permanently locking the UK into the world’s slowest growing, most regulatory burdensome and underperforming bloc.”
The report has a foreword by Conservative former Trade Secretary Peter, now Lord Lilley who declared: “It is an illusion that Single Market membership has been an irreplaceable boon to British manufacturers as the evidence shows they do relatively much better exporting outside it.
“The most frightening aspect of Chequers is that it commits the UK to accept all future rules.
“Yet Britain is particularly strong in emerging industries like bio-tech, fin-tech, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, where rules have yet to be set.
“It would be an act of self-harm to allow those rules to be made by countries that lack such industries and often apply extreme versions of the precautionary principle that throttle new developments.”
The report says the Single Market disadvantages Britain because it is so focused on trade in goods where the UK is relatively weak compared to rivals like France and Germany, and does not ease trade in services, where we are strong.
They stress that countries do not have to be in the single market to trade with it.
Figures also show that UK exports to non-EU countries grew three times as fast as those to Single Market countries between 1993 and 2015, and Britain is in surplus with America but has a vast deficit with the EU.
The authors say Britain should “chuck Chequers” and seek instead a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU.
“Brexit provides a unique opportunity to re-boot UK trade and the UK’s opportunities for future prosperity by re-taking control of trade policy,” they wrote.
“Brexit is not a panacea in itself. It will be a success if we can adopt the right micro- and macro-economic policies and trading relationships.
“History will judge it a failure if we do not.”
Global Britain director Ewen Stewart who co-wrote the report with former Scottish Parliament member Brian Monteith, added: “While the Chequers Plan uses innocuous sounding words like ‘the common rule book’, the legal text is very clear that the UK will be bound by EU rules without any say in their framing.
“It is not a partnership of equals.
“Chequers is the Single Market in all but name and abandons any pretence of taking back control by resetting regulations.
“It doesn’t deliver the referendum result and it breaks the manifesto pledges of both Conservative and Labour parties.
“Membership of the Single Market comes with a net price of £10billion a year but places all businesses under its rules irrespective of them being exporters or not.
“Trading under World Trade Organisation rules to the US comes with no costs or domestic controls on the UK.
“Countries who have free trade deals with the EU do not have to contribute to its budget or have their laws decided by foreign politicians.”