Belfast Telegraph

Cost-benefit analysis urged to show impact of leaving single market

Ministers have been challenged to show the costs and benefits of loosening ties with Brussels as campaigners published research showing 90% of exports went to countries which are, or could be, covered by EU deals.

Tory former business minister Anna Soubry said the Government should publish an analysis of the impact of leaving the single market before Theresa May triggers Article 50.

The Open Britain campaign pointed to House of Commons Library research showing that nearly all UK goods exports were covered by membership of the EU or trade deals currently being negotiated with Brussels.

But Brexit supporters have frequently highlighted the glacial pace of EU trade negotiations and claim the UK will be free to strike its own deals once outside of the EU.

The research shows that 47% of exports in 2015 went to the EU, 11% went to non-EU countries which have trade agreements with the bloc, 4% to countries where there is an agreement pending ratification and 28% to non-EU countries involved in trade talks.

Ms Soubry said: "This research demonstrates the huge advantages membership of the single market and the customs union has delivered and will continue to deliver for Britain. And it underlines the serious potential perils of pulling out of either.

"Those who argue for Britain to leave the customs union have not yet provided any evidence that doing so will make Britain better off. The onus is on them to do so.

"The Government should bring before Parliament serious cost-benefit analysis of the potential impact of leaving both the single market and the customs union. And whether their benefits can really be replicated outside. This must be done before Article 50 negotiations start."