Leaving the single market would be madness and the government know it

Here's a recap on what leading Brexiteers have said about leaving the single market in the past.

MPs will this week begin line by line scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill. As they do, the UK’s place in the single market will remain a concern for many on the backbenches.

Officially, Government policy remains that we should leave the single market in order to secure the kind of Brexit people supposedly voted for last year. However, as this crucial week begins it would perhaps be best to look back into the archives to see what many of the key protagonists really think of the policy.

Firstly, our ‘esteemed’ Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. In 2013, just three years before he led the charge for Brexit, he told Sky News in answer to a question about a potential referendum:

“I’d vote to stay in the single market. I’m in favour of the single market. I want us to trade freely with our European friends and partners.”

Secondly, there’s the Prime Minister. Speaking in January Theresa May declared that she wanted:

“The best possible deal for trading with and operating within the single European market.”

Thirdly, there’s the Conservative MEP, Dan Hannan, one of the leading lights in the Brexit movement who commented:

“Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market.”

And what of Owen Paterson, former Environment Secretary and another hard Brexiteer? He took an even firmer view on single market membership, concluding:

“Only a madman would actually leave the Market.”

In this week’s debate the Government will seek to paint black and white choice, arguing that when the UK voted to leave the EU it voted also to leave the single market.

We cannot and must not let them get away with the myth that everything is as simple is this, especially given the inconvenient truth that at the General Election, a majority of the population voted for MPs preferring a softer Brexit. To deliver a Brexit of this kind would not be a betrayal of the people but abiding by their wishes.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor of Left Foot Forward. He tweets here.

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3 Responses to “Leaving the single market would be madness and the government know it”

  1. Jonathan Bagley

    In the run-up to the referendum, both Cameron and Osborne stated clearly, on national TV, that leaving the EU meant leaving both the Customs Union and the Single Market. You can find these speeches on YouTube. The House of Commons voted 6 to 1 to hold the referendum. The population generally votes for a party, not an MP. The Conservative Government told us we are leaving the single market and the Customs Union.

  2. NMac

    The nasty Tory Brexiteers who appear to dominate the minority government are a thoroughly dishonest and corrupt crowd.

  3. Will

    Jonathan Bagley.
    No one should pay any attention to what those two duplicitous Tories said during the referendum campaign which plumbed new depths of misinformation and lies on both sides.
    The fact is that pretty well all the economic modeling carried out by both academic economists and business has concluded that Brexit will be damaging to the economy and any deal resulting in barriers to the Single Market ( Hard Brexit) will be very damaging, causing a recession in the short term and an incremental loss of growth over the long term.
    The Pro Brexit politicians know this but are now stuck riding the brexit tiger and can not admit to Leave voters that living standards and public services will be cut if we can’t come up with a deal.

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