Brexit department makes misleading claim on Brexit options

1st Apr 2019


Staying in the single market & customs union would not cover services.


Incorrect. A necessary condition for being a member of the single market is accepting rules on the free movement of services across the single market.

 “[Staying in the] Single Market & Customs Union… would not cover services,”

Department for Exiting the EU, 27 March 2019

Just before parliament held indicative votes on 27 March on future Brexit options, the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) put out a tweet (now deleted) claiming that staying in the single market and customs union would not end free movement of people, would not cover services, and would not stop us sending money to the EU.

It’s correct that being in the single market requires the UK to retain free movement of people between all single market countries, and would require the UK to continue making contributions to the EU (Norway, a member of the single market but not the EU, does both of these things).   

But it’s incorrect to suggest this option doesn’t cover services. The single market is based on the “four freedoms” of goods, services, people and capital: and members must respect all of these principles.

Free movement of services means that services can establish themselves in any single market country and operate freely across all other member countries of the single market, without barriers. They also have to have unified rules overseeing them.