The Simple Politics Brexit Cribsheet

January 25th, 2017

A handy guide to some of the terms being used in discussions about Brexit

Tariffs- Tariffs are taxes that are charged on products coming into a country. For example, if you want to promote British cheese, you could put large tariffs on import of cheese. That would make non-UK cheese very expensive. Quotas- Quotas are a certain amount of products with low tariffs. Once the quota is met, the tariff goes up. This would allow a certain amount of French Brie into the country - but not enough to challenge Cornish Brie industry. Free-trade area- This is an area that agrees to have no tariffs, no quotas and lots of free trade. There are sometimes some exceptions. Single Market- The EU Single Market is a free trade area that also aims to take away other barriers to trade. It also includes the free movement of people and requires member states to make contributions to the EU budget. Customs Union- When products travel between EU countries, there are no customs checks. When products come into the EU, though, they will be checked and taxed -at a rate decided on by the EU, not individual countries. Freedom of movement- usually refers to the freedom of movement of people. All 28 EU members and the four EFTA members must allow the citizens of the any of the other countries the freedom to work, study, live, and claim benefits in their own country. Limits a country’s ability to control immigration. Customs Union- is a group of countries that applies a common external tariff to imports and negotiates any other free trade agreements as a block. It also doesn’t subject trade between members to customs checks. A country in the European single market but not in the customs union would have to prove its exports into it didn’t originate from a country outside it. Global Britain- a vision for the UK that sees it being able to create an immigration policy that doesn’t favour arrivals from the EU over others, and negotiate its own free trade deals. Would presumably involve a so-called hard, or clean, Brexit. Hard/clean Brexit- is one that involves leaving the customs union and single market whilst retaining maximum possible access to it even if it means resorting to WTO rules on trade. As opposed to a so-called soft Brexit, which would keep the UK in both but accept free movement of people and budget contributions. WTO- or World Trade Organisation, is an international body that governs trade in areas where no other trade agreements exist. Sources: BBC,,,

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