Former EU trade commissioner
The best Brexit is one that does not happen because we can see already that it is going to be costly, complex and make us worse off. So I hope the public have second thoughts and at least conclude we should not leave the economic structures of the EU.
Theresa May has now accepted the principle of regulatory alignment with the EU and this is a step towards staying in the single market. The mooted alternative of a Canada-style trade agreement does not work for Britain as this would only eliminate tariffs on goods whereas we need regulatory alignment to permit free trade in services. We would be mugs to go for the Canada model, which Philip Hammond understands.
Leftwing writer and economist
I want to see Britain stay in the single market and the customs union but to drive a hard bargain in terms of EU inward migration – which is what I think most people who voted Brexit were wound up about. Until the EU equalises minimum wages and welfare regimes, free movement is an excuse for cheap labour.
May’s deal shows how the Tories have weakened Britain in the negotiation process. By the time the next phase is completed, my hunch is we will know enough about Russian manipulation of the original vote to justify a second referendum, in which I will vote exactly as I did in 2016: remain and reform the EU. Sadly, by then, the EU will likely be more unreformable than it was in 2016.
Businesswoman and prominent anti-Brexit campaigner
There must be a Brexit process that follows the letter of the law and the ruling in my supreme court case – irrespective of who is in power. This means a full and meaningful vote on all options at the end of the Brexit process resulting in an act of parliament.
The text in the phase-one agreement this week has substantially changed Brexit: “In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union that, now or in the future, support north-south co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement.” In a no deal scenario, the UK will still have “full alignment”.
A trade deal, outside the single market and the customs union, focusing on the continuation of tariff-free trade for goods and a bespoke arrangement based on “regulatory equivalence” for financial services as a special case. Maximum freedom to agree trade deals with third countries and decide and adjudicate our own regulations and immigration policy. If this can’t be agreed, then trade under WTO rules would be perfectly workable.
I have reservations about the direction of travel. Regulatory “alignment” relating to Northern Ireland remains an ambiguity and the European court of justice will continue to play a role after Brexit. Moreover, the potential financial settlement of £45-55bn seems excessive. A UK-EU trade deal must not be at any cost.
Director, British Chambers of Commerce
Business communities across the UK are as divided as the general public on how the final deal should look, but united in their support for a sensible “standstill” transition period and the need to avoid a “no deal” scenario, which has just 2% backing among chamber members. Whatever the final framework, businesses want the freest possible trade with the EU in future.
Friday’s breakthrough gives business confidence that there is now momentum to progress the critical and practical questions around trade that remain unanswered, such as on customs procedures and future regulatory requirements. Investment and confidence for businesses in every region and nation of the UK depend on getting clarity sooner rather than later.
Former Labour adviser We must prioritise jobs and the economy. I would like us to revisit the Norway model and seek EEA-Efta membership, which would give us access to the single market and certain EU programmes but without the extra burdens of being a full EU member. That way we could still benefit from remaining close to the EU but avoid further political integration. I’d like that option back on the table.
Last week showed us that the Irish border could be the way for the customs union, and possibly the single market, to be continued. Regulatory alignment for the whole UK could be the fallback. May could still get a sensible deal in Brussels if she goes for a softer Brexit.
Director of the Open Europe thinktank
We must agree a free trade deal that gives Britain the ability to vary rules and regulations without asking Brussels first. Leaving the single market and the customs union will come with costs, but if we don’t accept these we can’t grasp the opportunities of leaving or deliver the referendum result.
Getting “sufficient progress” last week is an important milestone. The EU was wrong to phase talks in this way but now, finally, we can start talking trade and future relations. The EU has also accepted the government’s idea of a standstill transition. Lots has been agreed, including on contentious questions like money. I’m confident that Brexit should proceed smoothly.
Former Labour MP and a leading member of the Brexit campaign
We need a Brexit that stops the supremacy of the European court of justice, means the UK leaves the single market and the customs union, and strengthens both the UK and the European Union. We must end automatic payments to the EU. If we do not do all of these things, we will not have left the EU.
This deal was a classic European Union deal. If you can’t find a way to a solution in one big step, you do it in smaller steps, by stages. The EU sees Theresa May as a weak prime minister but realises she can still get an agreement at home. It also showed how much the EU wants a deal too.
Former Ukip deputy chairwoman
Those of us campaigning for Leave sought a Brexit that allowed us to “take back control” of our laws, our money, and our borders. We campaigned to leave the customs union and the single market; set our own migration policy; remove ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European courts; and spend money saved on our own priorities such as the NHS, schools and policing. These, if you like, were Vote Leave’s “red lines”, and they are still mine.
I’m not hopeful. No time limit on the “transition” period. Ten more years’ subservience to the European court of justice. Another 15 months enticing EU citizens to Britain to claim benefits.
Writer and blogger on economics
I want us to remain as closely aligned with the EU as possible. My preference would be for membership of Efta/EEA. I am also concerned about the unreality of UK expectations regarding free movement of people. If we want free trade in services, we will have to have freedom of movement – and not just with the EU: India wants freedom of movement too.
Events of the last week show that UK negotiators have much less room for manoeuvre than they thought. They have conceded to the EU on all three of the EU’s upfront demands. They will inevitably concede to the EU on everything else as well. The UK has never had the upper hand in these negotiations and never will.