The value of a customs union and striking deals | Letters

Richard Tudway says Britain is a small bit in a much bigger picture, Martin London thinks the country is run by salesmen, David Lawrence addresses the Irish border, Christopher Clayton and Brian Willan have different takes on Michael Morpurgo’s Brexit perspective, David Beake says cooking up a deal with a Marxist is nothing new, Haydn Thomas thinks the Commons should be turned into a museum and Ros Jones sees the funny side of Anish Kapoor’s latest artwork

Larry Elliott (The value of a customs union is overrated, 4 April) fails to explain why Britain appears to underperform in trade within the EU. To argue that the customs union is somehow biased in favour of countries such as Germany and France at the expense of British companies is without merit.

Many so-called “British companies” are British only in the sense that they are incorporated in Britain. They otherwise do not reflect any sense of British “ownership”. This situation is very different in Germany and France. VW the German auto manufacturer is an example. The German government holds a golden share in VW that prevents it from being bought by non-German parties. In France, Renault benefits from state participation in ownership. Little wonder that they perform better in terms of inter-EU trade and further afield. They are strong, well-established, leading-edge businesses. They have subsidiary networks throughout the EU and elsewhere.

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