28 of 29 Cabinet Ministers used to back staying in the Single Market

Almost all members of the current Cabinet are on record as supporting Britain’s membership of the Single Market, new research by the Open Britain campaign reveals today. 

28 out of 29 Ministers around the Cabinet table have backed Single Market membership through public comments or through votes, arguing that its abolition of tariffs and impediments to trade with the EU have been essential for the British economy. They include the Prime Minister and hard Brexit enthusiasts like Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox.

Boris Johnson said in 2013 “I’d vote to say in the Single Market”, while Liam Fox said that “Conservative Members believe in the Single Market because we believe profoundly in the importance of free trade and we want Europe to be at the centre of a free-trading world.” 

Andrea Leadsom said she supported an “expanded” Single Market, while David Davis described the Single Market as “one of our country’s greatest successes.” Priti Patel and Chris Grayling, along with almost all of the current Cabinet, voted for a Government motion in January 2014 which said it is “the Government’s view that measures which promote growth and jobs in the EU, including measures towards completing the Single Market, are the top priority.” 

And the Government’s own website still states that the Single Market is “key to Europe’s place in the global economy” and that “it can drive growth and jobs.” It goes on to say the Government is “aiming to make the Single Market more productive, better for small business, and fit for a digital age, so that businesses can operate cross-border in the same way they do at home.” The Treasury website lists the ‘European Single Market’ as its number one policy priority.

Of those attending Cabinet, only Baroness Evans, the Leader of the House of Lords, is not on record supporting UK membership of the Single Market.

Commenting, Stephen Dorrell, former Conservative Health Secretary and Chairman of the European Movement UK, said: 

“This research demonstrates that senior members of this Government know full well that our membership of the Single Market represents an essential national interest.

“They could of course have changed their mind. They might have been persuaded that Margaret Thatcher was wrong to support its creation and Tony Benn was right to oppose it.

“If so let them explain what has led them to change their mind. It is not good enough to refer to the Referendum.  If they believe, and this research shows that they do, that leaving the Single Market damages our national interests, they have a democratic duty to say so – and to vote accordingly. 

“To do otherwise is to dodge the bullet – and blame the voters. If Britain leaves the Single Market, our public services will be worse funded and our living standards will be lower – in plain English we shall all be poorer.” 


Notes to Editors

23 out of 29 ministers who sit around the Cabinet table have previously argued the case for Britain’s membership of the Single Market:

Theresa May said during the referendum campaign that staying in the Single Market and helping to complete it “would see a dramatic increase in growth” for Britain. She has also said “the economic arguments are clear” when it comes to the Single Market. 

“So the Single Market accounts for a huge volume of our trade, but if it is completed – so there are genuinely open markets for all services, the digital economy, energy and finance – we would see a dramatic increase in economic growth, for Britain and the rest of Europe. The Capital Markets Union – initiated and led by Britain – will allow finance to flow freely between member states: the first proposal alone could lead to £110 billion in extra lending to businesses.  A completed energy Single Market could save up to £50 billion per year across the EU by 2030.  And a digital Single Market is estimated to be worth up to £330 billion a year to the European economy overall.”

Theresa May, Speech to Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 25 April 2016,


“So, if we do vote to leave the European Union, we risk bringing the development of the Single Market to a halt, we risk a loss of investors and businesses to remaining EU member states driven by discriminatory EU policies, and we risk going backwards when it comes to international trade.”

Theresa May, Speech to Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 25 April 2016,


“The reality is that we do not know on what terms we would win access to the Single Market.  We do know that in a negotiation we would need to make concessions in order to access it, and those concessions could well be about accepting EU regulations, over which we would have no say, making financial contributions, just as we do now, accepting free movement rules, just as we do now, or quite possibly all three combined.  It is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy.”

Theresa May, Speech to Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 25 April 2016,


“I think the economic arguments are clear ... I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you a little earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe."

Theresa May, private event at Goldman Sachs, 26 May 2016


Boris Johnson has said that “what most people in this country want is the Single Market”, and said he would personally vote to remain a member of it.

"...we would like a new relationship. And it’s very simple - what most people in this country want is the Single Market, the common market."

Boris Johnson, BBC's Andrew Marr Show, 16 December 2012


"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."

Boris Johnson, Sky News, 2013


David Davis has called the Single Market “one of our country’s greatest successes”, and has even described the EEA option as “too good”. In 2012 he said his preference would be “that we should remain in the Customs Union”, because it would mean “our manufacturers would not face complex and punitive “rules of origin” tariffs.

"That has promoted one of our country's greatest successes in Europe—the development of the Single Market."

David Davis, Hansard, 29 Nov 1995


"The Swiss option, EFTA membership plus a host of bilateral treaties, is the best starting place and is informative in many ways."

David Davis, speech to the Institute of Chartered Engineers, 4 Feb 2016

“…the Treasury did not even attempt a calculation of the EEA option – actually by no means the best option – presumably because it looked too good, and didn’t offer the Chancellor the headlines he was looking for.”
David Davis, Speech, 26 May 2016

“My preference would be that we should remain within the Customs Union of the EU… What this means is that we would have to maintain a common external tariff barrier (only about 2.4% on non-agricultural goods) and give up some freedoms in terms of negotiating our trading arrangements with third countries. The advantage would be that our manufacturers would not face complex and punitive “rules of origin” tariffs if parts of their products were made in, say, China. That would also be the arrangement that would allow true free trade in both directions across the Channel, so Continental manufacturers would benefit and therefore prefer it.”

David Davis, Speech, 19 Nov 2012

Liam Fox has said the Single Market was “important then, but is doubly important now”, and said that progress of the Single Market is a step in the right direction.

"After the successful summit in Brussels in 1988, my noble Friend Baroness Thatcher said: The creation of the single European market by 1992 is regarded by the British Government as the most important objective of the European Community". It was important then, but it is doubly important now. Conservative Members believe in the Single Market because we believe profoundly in the importance of free trade and we want Europe to be at the centre of a free-trading world. We believe in the power, supremacy and wisdom of the free market and that commerce—not politics—is the greatest unifying force available."

Liam Fox, Hansard, 24 Nov 1993


"The progress of the Single Market, albeit at much too slow a pace, has been a step in the right direction."

Liam Fox, Hansard, 18 May 2005


Philip Hammond has called the Single Market a success, said that it is vital to protect access to it, and following the referendum said that losing our current level of access would be “catastrophic”. 

“Most people in this country, whichever side of this debate they are on, will agree that the Single Market has been a success. After all, that’s what we originally joined the Common Market for."

Philip Hammond, speech at Chatham House, 16 June 2016


“I believe that it is essential that we protect our access to the single European market. Whether we like it or not, our economy, over 40 years, has become shaped by that access, and to lose that access now would be catastrophic.”
Philip Hammond, ITV’s Peston on Sunday, 26 June 2016 

“We want to have access to the Single Market. We want British companies to be able to go on selling their goods and services into the Single Market, as they have done before.”
Philip Hammond, BBC Scotland Good Morning, 14 July 2016

Amber Rudd has said that businesses would be better off with full access to the Single Market, has and pointed out its importance to job creation and financial security for Britain.

"Our businesses will be better off because they have full access to the free trade Single Market, bringing jobs, investment and financial security."

Amber Rudd, Speech, 24 March 2016


“The future of job creation in this country, which means financial security for working people and their families, requires us to be in the Single Market."

Amber Rudd, 2 June 2016


Michael Fallon has said that membership of the Single Market is the best interest of the UK, and that leaving would mean uncertainty for sterling and financial services. 

"We are inside a Single Market in which goods and services can be freely traded, in which airlines and other companies can operate freely and the moment you go outside that… you lose that access. You'd have to renegotiate all those rights and arrangements thereafter."

Michael Fallon, Daily Mail, 8 April 2016


"...membership of the EU (and hence the Single Market) is in the best interest of the UK. Access to the Single Market provides UK-based businesses with tariff-free access to a market of around 500 million customers and worth approximately £11 trillion in 2011. Being part of the Single Market enables the UK to influence the rules that govern it, instead of being subject to decisions that would otherwise be out of the UK's control."

Michael Fallon, Hansard, 11 Dec 2012


"All that is certain about a vote to Leave is the uncertainty that would come with it.  Uncertainty for sterling, for our access to the biggest free-trade Single Market in the world, and for our financial services industry, which relies on the ‘passport’ of EU membership to sell across the continent."

Michael Fallon, Conservative Home, 20 June 2016


"Our prosperity depends on our trade – in goods, services and intellectual capital. Almost half of that goes next door, to the continent, a Single Market bigger than the United States.  Our businesses have full tariff-free access to 500 million people. Over three million jobs in Britain are linked to those exports to that market. In return we get lower costs for our consumers."

Michael Fallon, The Telegraph, 28 May 2016


Liz Truss has said that the Single Market makes us “more prosperous”, and that “we have got to be very careful” about “taking [it] for granted and being outside that Single Market”.

"I believe we are more prosperous as part of the Single Market.”

Liz Truss, Telegraph, 5 March 2016


“That is why that European market is so precious. We share the same regulations. We share the same rules over things like food safety, over animal health and welfare, over bottles... We have got to be very careful about taking that Single Market for granted and being outside the Single Market. The Single Market isn’t something that is a sexy and exciting thing to explain but it is really crucial to the amount of growth we have seen in food and drink exports over last 40 years.”

Liz Truss, speech, 17 May 2016


Justine Greening said last year she “can’t see the point of leaving the Single Market”, and five days after the referendum said that “being outside the Single Market is not going to benefit the UK.”

"That’s why Margaret Thatcher set about getting the Single Market in place – so that British companies could get on with competing – and they have done that very successfully, which is why we export so much to the rest of Europe. Our car manufacturers – now a net exporter for the first time since the 1970s – need that level playing field, not to be at a disadvantage with tariffs trading from outside it. I can’t see the point of leaving the Single Market."

Justine Greening, Conservative Home, 21 May 2016


“Being outside the Single Market is not going to benefit the UK."

Justine Greening, Evening Standard, 28 June 2016


Greg Clark has called the Single Market “essential” for financial services and “critical to our prosperity”, and said in 2012 that “we will accept nothing that would compromise our ability to participate in the Single Market.” 

"The Single Market in financial services is essential, and the current proposals would compromise it... One of the clear principles on which we have insisted throughout all our negotiations on all the different dossiers is that we will accept nothing that would compromise our ability to participate in the Single Market."

Greg Clark, Hansard, 6 November 2012


"...it is absolutely critical to our prosperity that our financial services industry is not excluded from Europe’s Single Market..."

Greg Clark, Conservative Home, 29 January 2013


Jeremy Hunt made it clear after the referendum that he thinks the first part of any Brexit plan must be to remain in the Single Market. 

“The first part of the plan must be clarity that we will remain in the Single Market… the British Government needs to calm markets and many worried investors and businesses, both locally and internationally, by making it clear that it is an explicit national objective to remain in the Single Market even as we leave the institutions of the EU.” 
Jeremy Hunt, Telegraph, 27 June 2016

Damian Green has said that three million jobs are “dependent on free access to the Single Market”, and praised the importance of the EU’s free trade agreements around the world. 

"There is though a hard-headed pragmatic economic argument that our membership is to the advantage of the British economy, and therefore the British people... Major companies invest in the UK because they want access to the Single Market."

Damian Green, speech to Bright Blue, 12 December 2012


"...the Single Market is worth £12 trillion, some 50 per cent of British foreign trade is with other EU states. Britain benefits with a large number of jobs, often quoted as 3 million, dependant on free access to the Single Market of 500 million people, and the UK is enjoying free trade agreements negotiated on behalf of the whole union with countries from Colombia to Singapore."

Damian Green and Charles Tannock, Spectator, 25 June 2016


Sajid Javid last year described the Single Market as a “great invention” and praised the extent to which it has benefited British businesses.

"I still believe that Britain is better off in. And that’s all because of the Single Market. It’s a great invention, one that even Lady Thatcher campaigned enthusiastically to create. The world’s largest economic bloc, it gives every business in Britain access to 500 million customers with no barriers, no tariffs and no local legislation to worry about." 

Sajid Javid, Telegraph, 16 May 2016


David Lidington has called the Single Market essential for trade and competitiveness, and said that leaving it “would put at risk not only the current tariff-free trading environment, but the enormous reduction in—and, in many cases, elimination of—non-tariff barriers”.

"...the Single Market is essential to this government’s agenda for trade and competitiveness.”

David Lidington, 29 October 2010


"We know, at least, that the leave campaign believes that we should withdraw from the Single Market as part of departure from the EU. That would put at risk not only the current tariff-free trading environment, but the enormous reduction in—and, in many cases, elimination of—non-tariff barriers that have proved to be one of the key advantages to British industry of EU membership."

David Lidington, Hansard, 9 May 2016


David Gauke last year said leaving the Single Market would make Britain “a less open economy” which would “have a cost to the British people and their living standards.” He also said it is “simply impossible” to enjoy the benefits of the Single Market without remaining inside it. 

"If we leave the single market, we become a less open economy, which will have a cost to the British people in their living standards."

David Gauke, Hansard, 19 April 2016


"Membership of the single market helps us to pursue the approach of having an open trading economy. That is a very positive thing, one I hope the British people will ensure we continue to have."

David Gauke, Hansard, 23 May 2016


"Access to the single market reduces trade barriers to a level simply impossible to find outside the single market."

David Gauke, Hansard, 23 May 2016


David Mundell has said that being in the Single Market “gives UK businesses access to the world’s largest trading bloc” and that our current our level of access is “vital” for Scotland’s businesses and tourism industry.

“The Single Market gives UK businesses access to the world’s largest trading bloc with 500 million people and 21 million companies generating £11 trillion in economic activity.”

David Mundell, Hansard, 7 May 2014


"Our access to the Single Market of 500 million people reduces costs for Scottish businesses by removing barriers to an export market, currently worth around £11.6 billion. It secures jobs. The Wilson Review of Support for Scottish Exporting, concluded that over 330,000 jobs in Scotland depend on EU trade; And it is vital to our tourism industry too, an industry that provides over 10 per cent of total jobs in Scotland."

David Mundell, Speech, 22 March 2016


Alun Cairns has said the Single Market brings better opportunities for Britain, that it is “fundamental” to the steel industry, and that all independent observers “recommend that we stay in the single European market”.

“Anyone who knows something about steel – Tata, the unions, investors and dare I say the Government – agrees that we are better having the opportunities of a Single Market.”

Alun Cairns, Speech at Swansea's Liberty Stadium, 19 May 2016


"That's what the independent observers, economic think tanks, they all recommend that we stay a member of the single European market."
Alun Cairns, BBC News, 22 June 2016

"Access to that single European market is fundamental to the steel industry, but it is also fundamental to attracting a buyer... industries in the automotive sector depend on companies such as Toyota and Ford which all want us to remain part of the single European market."

Alun Cairns, Hansard, 25 May 2016


Patrick McCloughlin said he was “shocked” by those who are dismissive of the Single Market, because it makes the UK a “magnet for investment”.

“[Thatcher] knew exactly how important the single market was and she was very keen to get it ... One of the things that has shocked me is the way in which people have been dismissive of the single market. Several of those who think we should come out [of the EU] have been saying the single market doesn’t matter. It does matter. It is just vast. It has made the United Kingdom a magnet for investment. When companies come to make those decisions about investment in the future, they might not look at the United Kingdom."

Patrick McCloughlin, The Telegraph, 21 May 2016


Karen Bradley has said that leaving the Single Market would make Britain less attractive to business investment.

“The simple truth is that by leaving the European Single Market, Britain becomes less attractive to business investment.”
Karen Bradley, letter to constituents, 22 June 2016


Damian Hinds has said he wants the UK to continue “accelerating the integration of the Single Market.”

"We want the UK to play a leading role in creating a dynamic, competitive and outward-focused Europe, delivering prosperity and security for every country in the EU, particularly by accelerating the integration of the single market."

Damian Hinds, Hansard, 27 October 2015

Andrea Leadsom has described herself as “a big fan of an expanded Single Market”, and said the UK has been “enormously successful” at deepening it.

"I am a big fan of an expanded Single Market because I genuinely believe that it is in the interests of all EU member states."

Andrea Leadsom, Hansard, 22 November 2011

"The UK has been enormously successful in achieving its strategic aims of enlargement and deepening of the single market."

Andrea Leadsom, Hansard, 18 September 2012


Brandon Lewis said last year that 3.5m British jobs are “directly linked” to our membership the Single Market, and that remaining part of this is good for “jobs, energy security and investment”.

"Around 3.5 million British jobs are directly linked to membership of the European Union’s single market – 1 in 10 British jobs ... I believe we have to remain part of Europe for jobs, energy security and investment."

Brandon Lewis, 24 February 2016 

James Brokenshire warned during the referendum that it is “inconceivable” that Britain could continue to have access to the Single Market whilst ending freedom of movement. He has also praised the EU’s intention to deepen the “Single Market”, and said this is a further reason to remain inside it.

“There is an idea that things would be better outside the EU, but I find it inconceivable that we would have access to the single market and not have those issues of free movement.”
James Brokenshire, Hansard, 12 May 2016


"We have new commitments from the EU to cut red tape, complete the single market and sign new trade deals."
James Brokenshire, Hansard, 5 May 2016


Michael Gove (24), Priti Patel (25), Chris Grayling (26), Jeremy Wright (27) and Gavin Williamson (28) all voted for a Government motion in January 2014 that states it is “the Government’s view that measures which promote growth and jobs in the EU, including measures towards completing the Single Market, are the top priority.”


The Government’s own website continues to list completing the Single Market as a Government policy.