Opposition party leaders launch joint bid to keep UK in EU single market
Opposition party leaders have joined forces in a bid to keep the UK in the single market and customs union after Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats, SNP, Green party and Plaid Cymru have all said they will back an amendment to the government’s EU withdrawal bill that would bind Britain to the trading arrangements.
The move comes after the party leaders agreed this week to commit to coordinated efforts to shape Brexit through the Commons.
But despite being invited to the cross-party meeting, Jeremy Corbyn declined to take part in the talks.
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: “This amendment is a significant step in the fight against Brexit, demonstrating the increased willingness of parties to work together formally rather than just behind the scenes…
“We urge the leadership of a fifth opposition party, Labour, join us so we can change course from the dangerous Brexit being pursued by the Conservatives.”
SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford MP, added: “Time is running out to prevent the economic catastrophe of an extreme Tory Brexit.
“We know UK government plans to drag Scotland and the UK out of the single market and customs union would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cause lasting damage to the incomes, livelihoods, and living standards of millions of people across the country.
Yesterday Labour backbenchers piled pressure on Mr Corbyn to adopt the same stance.
In a speech to the Fabian Society’s annual conference in London today, Labour MP Wes Streeting said: “On the UK’s future relationship with the European Union – the single biggest issue facing our country in a generation – we find ourselves in the terrible position where it is the Labour party that currently stands as the single biggest barrier to the UK’s membership of the single market and customs union.
“With Labour, there would be a majority in the Commons for single market membership, but not without us.
“If the Labour party announced tomorrow that we would keep Britain in the single market and customs union, it would be a game-changing moment in British politics.
“The policy would command a majority in the Commons and a majority in the country.”
Meanwhile, Theresa May has moved to heal the Brexit divisions within her Cabinet, telling ministers they will have to agree on how trade discussions with the EU will unfold before a February speech.
According to The Times, the Prime Minister must find a compromise between the conflicting positions of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson one side and Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd on the other.
The planned address will take place next month and will set out Britain’s demands on trade and security.