However, Dr Farry stressed it has to be a full replica of the existing situation and emphasised Labour needed to end its ambiguity around the Single Market. He added full continued participation by Northern Ireland in the Single Market is most crucial to protecting existing economic arrangements and ensuring future opportunities.
“The commitment to a Customs Union from Jeremy Corbyn is necessary but not sufficient to protect the UK’s current and future economic prosperity. However, this should have been given much earlier. The arguments for the UK having its own independent trade policy are erroneous. It is much better to preserve existing significant trading relationships with Europe and work through the EU to improve trade with other world markets. To be clear, this has to be a Customs Union, not some form of looser customs arrangement.
“Regrettably, there remains a lack of clarity in relation to the need for continued participation in the Single Market. This, and the essential adherence to the four fundamental freedoms, is even more central to economic opportunities and prosperity.
“For Northern Ireland, a fresh Custom Union would go a long way to avoiding a hard border in Ireland, but regulatory differences would require some form of physical checks. Continued participation in the Single Market would not only protect the Good Friday Agreement, existing North-South co-operation and the all-island economy, but future proof our regional economy.
“A situation whereby the UK as a whole stays in a Custom Union and Northern Ireland at least stays in the Single Market is the core of Alliance’s own paper, Bridges not Borders.”