Those three letters “WTO” cover, in relation to Theresa May’s EU negotiation, a range of possible outcomes. One extreme would see the consequent collapse of all trade arrangements with the 27, with no consequent legal certainties, and no agreement to ease the effect of non-tariff barriers (such as whether goods entering from the UK meet EU standards). The other would see a deal over trade arrangements, with those difficult legal questions addressed by both parties, and an agreement which would ameliorate those non-tariff barrier effects.
There would however presumably be tariffs in place in the latter as well as the former scenario, and/or other restrictions on Britain would having the same access to the Single Market as countries that are members or it.
Most Party members, like many others, will not yet have explored the various alternatives (Policy Exchange is currently having a go), but their instincts are clear. Over one in five want Britain to “retain access to the Single Market on terms as close to the present ones as possible”. They total one per cent more than 22 per cent of Party member respondents who told our final pre-referendum survey that they were firmly for Remain. Another one in five really don’t seem to care about Single Market access: they are presumably untroubled by relying on WTO in almost any circumstances. These can only be hardline Brexiteers.
That leaves over half who would prefer a Single Market deal on terms as close to the present ones as possible, but would if necessary plump for WTO. They seem to echo the Prime Minister’s leitmotif: no deal is better than a bad deal.
Our non-Party member readers again deliver a result which, like those we reported yesterday, have more of the flavour of the Remain than the Leave campaign about them – a remarkable turnaround for our surveys.
Only 15 per cent say that Britain retaining Single Market access isn’t important to them. Thirty-four per cent would prefer a deal, but would rely on WTO if necessary. And 52 per cent want Single Market access on terms as close to the present ones as possible.