Since the UK voted on 23 June to leave the UK – by a margin equivalent to more than the combined entire populations of Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Bristol – there has been much discussion about the "model" which could be used for the UK's continued relationship with the EU.
There has been mention of "models" as diverse as the ones by which the EU has a relationship with Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, the World Trade Organisation and even Albania.
Such discussion is interesting but will be largely unproductive.
Those models are all used for States which have never been in the EU.
Some of those models are even designed to entice or encourage membership of the EU.
These models have involved installing and not removing the tapestry of rules which have been introduced into the UK regime for over four decades. Dismantling four decades of rules – 100,000+ laws – is difficult and different than starting afresh.
While no one knows how (or when) Brexit will be resolved, it is submitted that if the UK is to have a new relationship with the EU then it will probably not be an off the shelf model.
It is best to see it as a bespoke model – much like a Saville Row suit. And just like a bespoke suit, it could be expensive and take a long time to make.
However, this could be the best approach because it is tailor made for the needs of the UK and the EU.
Designing and agreeing this new model will be difficult. The favourite model – the "Norway" one which is also the European Economic Area model - has several attractions because it is already in place, the UK is already party to it as the UK is party to the EEA. The downside however for some in the UK is that it would involve free movement of persons and that may be a bridge too far in some quarters. The Canadian and WTO models do not afford the necessary protections from the services perspective for vital UK sectors such as financial services. Other models make the UK a mere rule-taker rather than a rule-maker.
Hence, the takeaway is that we are moving towards a new bespoke model of relationship. It may even be easier to "sell" a Saville Row suit than an "off the peg" one!