What is meant by ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit?

Do politicians even know what these terms mean?

Since the referendum in 2016, in which the UK voted to leave the European Union, there has been a prevailing question about Brexit; will it be a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit? However, many of us are in no position to start speculating as we aren’t even certain what the two different terms mean, and are none the wiser about their implications.

A soft Brexit would keep the UK closely aligned with the EU, allowing it special access to the single market. However, in return, the UK might have to settle on immigration agreements, which is an example of the compromises the UK would still have to make. The UK would aim to stay in the customs union, to minimise the impact Brexit has on trade and businesses, although it would be harder for the UK to sign trade deals. In summary, a soft Brexit would result in the UK remaining closely linked to the EU, although it would have to abide by some of its rules, without having any say in them. For Remainers, a soft Brexit would be their preferred choice, of course after the choice of no Brexit at all.

A hard Brexit, which might have more support among those who voted for Brexit, would involve completely withdrawing the UK from the EU. This would mean that it would lose complete access to the single market and customs union, which could cause great damage to the economies of the UK and EU. However, people argue that the UK would quickly recover from the economic disruption, and instead have the freedom to function independently. One potential problem with a hard Brexit would be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Such a border would significantly disrupt relations between the two parts of Ireland.

The referendum on Brexit did not provide the UK government with any guidance on what the UK people wanted, i.e. whether the Brexit should be soft or hard. Since the vote politicians have defined Brexit to fit their personal desires. Now that a real structure is being proposed for Brexit one does wonder why a referendum does not take place to understand the desires of the UK populous.

Natalia V