Cross-party MEPs – Case for remaining in the Single Market is growing by the day

20 UK Members of the European Parliament, representing Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, have today called on the Government to change course in the Brexit negotiations and seek full membership of the Single Market.

They argue that the case for membership has strengthened since the referendum, given the “major and valuable” changes that have taken place in the rules that govern it. In particular, they point to many recent developments in areas of concern to many UK voters, such as: new measures for tackling tax avoidance, major steps towards reforming free movement, the end of mobile roaming charges and several measures aimed at deepening the digital single market. Pointing to other changes that “few in the UK will have noticed”, they also highlight new free trade agreements struck by the EU since the referendum with major economies including Canada and Japan.

Three Conservatives MEPs have signed the letter, including Charles Tannock, the Conservative Party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesman in the European Parliament. In addition, 12 Labour MEPs have signed the letter, including Seb Dance, the Deputy Leader of the Labour group. In the letter, they argue that the best way to secure Britain’s prosperity would be to seek a deal that keeps Britain inside the Single Market and Customs Union and that “keeps Britain in the room.” Anything less, they argue, “risks making us a rule taker rather than a rule maker.”

In their letter, the 20 MEPs, leading supporters of the Open Britain campaign, write:

“Having common and constantly evolving European standards has not only increased trade and delivered great prosperity, it has time and again proved to be the best way of managing the many challenges posed by globalisation.

“The best way to secure Britain’s prosperity would be to remain close to Europe, inside the Single Market and Customs Union, and to secure a deal that keeps Britain in the room.

“Sadly, this no longer seems likely. So, if the price of a Brexit turns out to be a loss of control over the rules and an economy that will leave us poorer, people have every right to keep an open mind about whether the Brexit course chartered by our Government is the right path for our country.”

/ends

Notes to editors

The full text of the letter, with the list of signatories, is below:

As UK MEPs from across the political spectrum, we are writing to express our deep concern at the Government’s decision to pull Britain out of the Single Market.

It is a lamentable irony that, having helped create the Single Market and been so central to shaping its rules, successive British governments have so singularly failed to explain to the public the many benefits it has brought to our country. Having common and constantly evolving European standards has not only increased trade and delivered great prosperity, it has time and again proved to be the best way of managing the many challenges posed by globalisation.

Few in the UK will have noticed but in the year and a half since the referendum, some major and valuable changes have taken place in how the largest free trade area in the world works.

Europe is leading the way in tackling corporate tax avoidance. In the past year, Apple and Amazon have been forced to pay back huge sums to national governments in Ireland (£11 billion) and Luxembourg (£222 million). Plans are now underway to rewrite tax rules for technology companies, aimed at increasing governments’ tax take from companies with an international footprint.

The rules around free movement are also being reformed. Changes to the Posted Workers’ Directive will tackle the undercutting of wages that can take place when workers from one country are “posted” to work in another.

The Single Market continues to create new benefits for consumers too. Brits on holiday this summer will have enjoyed significant savings on their phone bills after mobile roaming charges were scrapped across the continent in June. And new rules for an emerging digital single market are creating greater choice for consumers, who will be able to choose which European website they want to buy products from, without being blocked or automatically re-routed to a domestic website as they are now.

The EU is deepening its trading relationship with the rest of the world too, agreeing new deals with major economies like Canada and Japan and set to launch talks with Australia and New Zealand to add to the trade deals it already has in place with more than 60 countries.

Leaving the EU means giving up our seat at Europe’s top table and risks making us a rule taker rather than a rule maker. The best way to secure Britain’s prosperity would be to remain close to Europe, inside the Single Market and Customs Union, and to secure a deal that keeps Britain in the room.

Sadly, this no longer seems likely. So, if the price of Brexit turns out to be a loss of control over the rules and an economy that will leave us poorer, people have every right to keep an open mind about whether the Brexit course chartered by our Government is the right path for our country.

Richard Ashworth, Conservative

Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat
Paul Brannen, Labour

Seb Dance, Labour

Julie Girling, Conservative

Theresa Griffin, Labour

John Howarth, Labour

Ian Hudghton, SNP

Wajid Khan, Labour

Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour

Alex Mayer, Labour

Clare Moody, Labour

Rory Palmer, Labour

Molly Scott Cato, Green

Alyn Smith, SNP

Catherine Stihler, Labour

Charles Tannock, Conservative

Julie Ward, Labour

Keith Taylor, Green

Derek Vaughan, Labour