Supporters of a “soft” Brexit imagine a future where the UK retains some form of membership of the European Union single market in return for a degree of free movement.
In contrast, for those who back a “hard” Brexit, their view is that the better option would be to leave the EU and the single market entirely and then have a relationship based on World Trade Organization rules.
The International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, has made it clear that he is a “hard” Brexiteer. He said in a recent speech, “we [Britain] have our own schedules that we currently share with the rest of the EU. These set out our national commitments in the international trading system. The UK will continue to uphold these commitments when we leave the European Union.”
According to the BBC’s analysis, free movement governed by an agreement with the EU is not seen as a politically palatable option. In an interview with the BBC’s Katya Adler, Mario Renzi, the Italian PM, said “Brexit would be a very difficult process but seemed willing to at least consider the relationship between membership of the single market and adherence to the free movement of people”.
The government’s target is to negotiate agreement which is being described in Westminster as “Canada +” however with some significant bespoke variations. Financial services, for example, “would need to play a much larger role in any Anglo-EU deal, given the size and importance of the London market to both sides”.