What is Soft Brexit?

Brexit can take many forms. Different forms should be envisaged as a spectrum with ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard‘ being two possible points on it. When people talk about Soft Brexit they are referring to a scenario where the UK stays either within the EU’s Single Market by becoming a member of the European Economic Area (like Norway), or in the European Customs Union, or both.

If this happened, the short term economic impact of leaving the EU would likely to be small. However, if it remained in the Single Market, the UK would have to maintain free movement of EU citizens, it would remain subject to judgments of the European Court of Justice and it would have to contribute to the EU budget.

If the UK remained in the Customs Union it would be unable to strike its own trade deals with other countries. It would benefit from all trade deals signed by the EU. However those EU deals signed after Brexit would be negotiated without any UK input.

For more on Norway’s arrangement see our fact profile here, and for the customs union, see our explanation here.

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