If the UK does follow the path currently set out by Government, and eventually leaves the Single Market, the debate over the Customs Union will become ever more nuanced.
As we laid out in a prior article, there are many positives to staying in the Customs Union, but also some severe negatives. Chief among them is the say, or rather the lack of say that the UK would have in an EU-controlled Customs Union.
As can be seen in the Customs Union negotiated with Turkey, there are significant restrictions that (a) make it almost impossible for Turkey to negotiate FTA’s with other countries and (b) leaves Turkey with no tangible say in any FTA’s the EU negotiates with other countries – which Turkey then has to fully accept (perhaps even without reciprocal access).
It is therefore of utmost importance that if the UK does decide to stay in the Customs Union, that we have a seat (and preferably a Veto) at all future EU FTA negotiations.
However, the political reality is that this is extremely unlikely – it is simply not in the interest of the EU to offer such a gesture.