A new video created by the Open Britain campaign highlights the times senior Government ministers, including the Prime Minister, have promised that Britain will get the “exact same benefits” in trade with the EU after Brexit, despite their decision to take the UK out of the Single Market and Customs Union.
Since the referendum, David Davis told MPs that the Government’s aim is to negotiate “a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement” with the European Union, “that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have.” Liam Fox said we will have “at least as free a trading environment as we have today.” Theresa May said the Government’s mission is to ensure “maximum freedom” for British companies to trade with Europe, and Philip Hammond said “the British people did not vote on June 23rd to become poorer.”
They have made these promises despite making clear that the UK will leave the Single Market and Customs Union, which deliver the freest available trade with the EU – our biggest trading partner that buys 45 per cent of our exports.
Open Britain, which last week hosted Tony Blair’s speech opposing Brexit At Any Cost, will ensure the Government is held to account for these promises. It is the Government's choice to leave the Single Market and Customs Union, yet they are promising that trade with Europe will not suffer at all. That is the benchmark against which the deal they secure should be judged.
Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“The Government has promised that we can leave the Single Market and yet enjoy the ‘exact same benefits’ as we get in trade with the EU that we enjoy now. Most economic experts believe this to be impossible – it is entirely on the Government to prove why they are wrong.
“Theresa May, David Davis, Liam Fox and Philip Hammond have now made a solemn pledge to the British people. They must deliver it, and ensure that Brexit does not erect any new trade barriers whatsoever between the UK and the European Union.
“If a single business is damaged, or a single job is lost as a result of hard Brexit, this Government will be to blame for making a political choice to leave the Single Market and Customs Union and pursue a hard, destructive Brexit.”
Notes to editors:
The full video can be seen here: https://twitter.com/Open_Britain/status/833658850322558976
The full quotes used in the video are below:
“My right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) talks about things that were not on the ballot paper. What was on the ballot paper was leaving the European Union. I am afraid that it is very difficult to see how we can leave the European Union and still stay inside the single market, with all the commitments that go with that. What we have come up with—I hope to persuade her that this is a very worthwhile aim—is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have, but also enable my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade to go and form trade deals with the rest of the world, which is the real upside of leaving the European Union.”
David Davis, house of commons, Jan 24
“And on the question of tariffs, protectionism never actually helps anyone at all. And as we move into post Brexit arena, we want it to be as free and as open as possible, and don’t just look at it from the UK’s perspective. The EU has a massive surplus in goods with the UK, who does it harm more if we end up in a new tariff environment? Does it harm more those who else more to the UK, or the UK? It’s in everybody’s interest that as we move forward, we have at least as free a trading environment as we have today. Anything else may not harm the politicians or the institutions, but the people of Europe, and it is the people of Europe who should be at the forefront of our thoughts.”
Liam Fox, speech, 29th September 2016
“But the great prize for this country – the opportunity ahead – is to use this moment to build a truly Global Britain. A country that reaches out to old friends and new allies alike. A great, global, trading nation. And one of the firmest advocates for free trade anywhere in the world. That starts with our close friends and neighbours in Europe. So as a priority, we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s member states. It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets – and let European businesses do the same in Britain.”
Theresa May Lancaster house speech, 17th January 2017
“And I can reassure the British people of this: that message has been received, loud and clear! No ifs, no buts, no second referendums. We are leaving the European Union. But it is equally clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23rd to become poorer, or less secure. So our task is clear: repatriate our sovereignty; control our borders; and seize the opportunities that the wider world has to offer but do all of this while protecting our economy, our jobs and our living standards.”
Phillip Hammond, speech to Conservative party conference, 3 October 2016
“But we will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the European Union. I want that deal to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy. I want it to include cooperation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism work. I want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. I want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and let European businesses do the same here. But let me be clear. We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.”
Theresa May, speech to Conservative party conference, 2 October 2016