Soft Brexit or Hard Brexit?

When a majority of people voted to leave the European Union, politicians and the media were quick to interpret what exactly that meant. Whilst some believed it meant a complete detachment from the EU, its laws and institutions, others interpreted it as a less finite split. From these two interpretations the two terms Hard Brexit and Soft Brexit were formed.

Hard Brexit

Hard Brexit refers to a complete exit from the European Union, including the single market.

The single market refers to the collection of all 28 member states economies that benefit from free trade between each other and allows business to set up and operate in other countries in the EU. Arguments for leaving the single market include the belief that the UK should operate independently of EU rules and regulations, something staying in the market is unlikely to allow. Other arguments include the financial obligations the UK is likely to have to operate within the market.

Soft Brexit

Soft Brexit refers to a push to keep certain things in place, such as fuller access to the single market.

Given that many UK businesses operate in the EU and many UK citizens have set up businesses in other EU countries, soft Brexit considers that their access to the single market is very important in negotiations. As the European Union has stated that membership of the single market goes hand in hand with the free movement of people, complete access of the single market conflicts with one of the biggest concerns of those that voted to leave the EU, controlling immigration.

Which one?

Given these considerations there is therefore not an easy answer to deciding what kind of Brexit the UK is going to have, Hard Brexit or Soft Brexit. Other considerations such as what laws we keep and write into UK law, and which ones we do not keep also poses a challenge for UK lawmakers.

When the negotiations start, trade and the welfare and residency of citizens within the UK and other EU countries is likely to form the key parts of any outcome. Hard Brexit and Soft Brexit therefore are the two potential outcomes, with a compromise between both likely to surface by the end of the negotiations and in consideration of both the UK and EU’s positions on each issue.

Why not learn more with these helpful links!

‘Brexit: What are the options?’ –

‘What does a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit actually mean?’ –


Harvey Chandler

International Politics student at Brunel University. Harvey holds the Chair of Brunel Politics Society and is Political Editor of student newspaper Le Nurb.

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