I haven’t written previously about the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence for the simple reason there was not very much in it. Sure, there were the usual grand soundings about no concrete Irish border and being friends and allies, but nothing in the way of real clarity. Indeed, the only clear thing about it was the lack of clarity – as the Prime Minister, fully fifteen months on from the referendum, continues to speak of a “bespoke” solution.
The simple fact is, even allowing for a two-year transition (sorry, “implementation”), there is no time for an outright bespoke solution. The UK needs to choose roughly where it wishes to be, and everything can be negotiated from there.
The options are essentially:
– Canada (a free-trade deal but little else;
– Switzerland (membership of EFTA subject to the EFTA Court but not directly of the Single Market or the Customs Union);
– Norway (membership of EFTA and the EEA, and thus of the Single Market under partial ECJ jurisdiction but not the Customs Union); or
– UK transition (essentially remaining in the Single Market and forming a common Customs Union under ECJ jurisdiction, as will be necessary during the transition phase, forever).
In fact, it seems to me the Prime Minister has already selected Switzerland by default. She wants more than Canada but freedom from direct intervention by the ECJ. That leaves Switzerland.
Of course, to do Switzerland she will need to apply to join EFTA, something David Davis has indicated he does not want to do.