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The Irish border is not the insoluble obstacle to Brexit negotiations that it has been made out to be and the UK can leave the single market and customs union while preserving a frictionless border in Ireland. This can be achieved by the use of new technology and in the context of a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and EU, in an arrangement that goes beyond the Customs Partnership and in no way threatens the Good Friday Agreement.
In a major new study, Policy Exchange argues that as the UK leaves the EU, it should unilaterally abolish all tariffs. This would reduce UK consumers’ shopping bills, increase productivity and promote global prosperity. We can also disarm the threat of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. In the Foreword, Australian High Commissioner to London Alexander Downer said: “Trade is not a zero-sum equation. In the decades ahead all major economies should remove their tariffs and open their markets to competition. As the UK once again takes its place at the WTO it should take the opportunity lead by example and remove its tariffs.”
This new Policy Exchange report, published today — written by Economic and Social Policy Research Fellow, Jonathan Dupont — recommends that the UK should double the proportion of its international aid budget spent on research and development, in order to solve the most pressing global challenges and support the Government’s Industrial Strategy. George Freeman MP, Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, has written a Foreword for the report.
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Policy Exchange’s Senior Fellow on EU Affairs Ray Bassett – himself a former senior Irish diplomat – argues that ‘any hard border in the Irish Sea and North/South would hurt Ireland a lot more than it would Britain’ and that Ireland’s interests are more aligned with the UK than EU. Consequently, he says Dublin should drop its efforts to keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union.
The EU’s own report confirms that the Irish Border issue can be resolved with technology – does this expose other motivations in Dublin and Brussels?
Dr Graham Gudgin – himself a former special adviser to the First Minister of Northern Ireland – finds that the EU’s own research group has identified technological solutions to avoid a ‘hard border’, raising questions about Dublin and Brussels’ intransigence on this issue.
Last week, Chuka Umunna spoke to Chatham House in a much-needed intervention on the state of British foreign policy.
In recent years, the British foreign policy debate has not kept up with the pace of global political and economic change. For that reason alone, there was much to commend in Umunna’s sense of urgency. To adapt to the challenges of the twenty-first century, as he put it, “we need to look ahead and develop a proper national strategy on the basis of a clear understanding of what our interests are”.
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