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An à la carte Brexit simply isn’t possible

Public discussion frequently misses the point that, as in any mature legal system, the elements of the EU’s constitution are linked together in complex ways, explains Paul Stanley QC

13 September 2017

With the CJEU in recess, it has been a quiet summer in terms of court judgments. Not so, of course, so far as Brexit negotiations are concerned. In general, I have tried to steer clear of the whole Brexit discussion, but as the dust begins to settle slightly it seems reasonable to consider some of the issues that are emerging.

The biggest difficulty with the tone of discussion is that it largely proceeds on the basis of a set of oversimplified assumptions. Take for instance the debate about ‘the single market’ and ‘the customs union’, as if these were separate and clearly defined things. They are not. Within the EU, the ‘customs union’ forms part of the single market. The customs union is about the removal of financial barriers to trade within the Union: duties and charges which operate like duties. But it is not an end in itself: it forms part (within the Union) of a s...

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