The difficulties caused by the UK vote to leave the EU become both clearer and bigger as each week passes. Theresa May has said that the UK wants sovereignty on the movement of people, no rule by the EU Court of Justice but access to the single market. The EU has said that the four freedoms, free movement of labour/people, services, capital and goods cannot be separated one from the other. Just like the Christian trinity the EU has the quaternity. Four in One. Each element is equal and the totality is indivisible. There is a conceptual stand-off.
This is the first and most fundamental of the problems. But there are many more. What will the cost be to the UK of having to regulate a complex modern economy for 60 million people equally to the way the EU regulates the economy for 500 million. There are hundred of examples. Consider food or pharmaceutical or agro chemical product authorisations or standards. Consider intellectual property. The UK will have to create new authorisation bodies equal in skill to those already existing in the EU. At what cost? Then there is the issue of trade negotiations and trade deals and the framework for those deals. The UK does not have the administrative capacity to negotiate and if the UK was to take the WTO route it would have to negotiate with the 160 different WTO members today.
The EU’s need to keep its own internal coherence will outweigh any desire to maintain strong relations with the UK. That reality is only slowly beginning to seep into the consciousness of all parties involved.