New campaign group, Open Britain, launches to fight for best possible EU deal for Britain

Today [Friday] a new campaign, Open Britain, launches by setting out the key positions the UK Government should take in the upcoming negotiations with the EU to deliver the best deal and the best relationship with Europe for Britain’s future.

In the paper, Open Britain: Stronger with Europe, the new campaign sets out underlying principles for the negotiations in a number of key policy areas. These include:

  • Protecting the UK economy. To minimise the cost of leaving and to maximise national opportunities for trade, innovation, jobs and growth, the UK should be a member of the Single Market. This should be based on a bespoke UK-EU agreement which prioritises continued elimination of non-tariff barriers and continued influence over regulatory decision-making so the UK is a ‘rule maker’ not a ‘rule taker’.
  • Valuing talent and hard work, with a fairer system. The UK should ‘mend not end’ free movement, with an EU-wide debate on how the system works, looking at a range of reform options to mitigate negative economic outcomes if they arise. Domestic policy proposals include introducing a Migration Impact Fund, banning agencies from advertising solely overseas, and guaranteeing the rights of existing EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.
  • National security through deep co-operation. Unprecedented co-operation over intelligence-sharing and security and defence policy is essential to protect ourselves against shared threats.
  • Billions in investment protected. All EU funding to our regions, universities, businesses, agricultural sector and infrastructure must be protected until 2020, with no cuts at all, and greater clarity must be provided by the Government over funding beyond 2020.
  • Protecting our natural environment. Continue to be a leader in Europe and in the world on environmental protection and climate change by committing to preserve the protections to which we are currently committed as a member of the EU.
  • Dignity and equality within the workplace. Nothing must be done to undermine employment rights, and all rights guaranteed by the EU must be immediately translated into UK law. 
  • Protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom. It is critical that the Government places the constitutional stability of the UK at the forefront of its negotiating stance. Nothing should be done which threatens the integrity of the UK.

The first issue-specific campaign run by Open Britain will be on the importance of continuing the UK’s membership of the Single Market, called One Market: Millions of Jobs.

Open Britain will be a cross-party campaign, and three leading politicians from the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats (Anna Soubry, Pat McFadden and Norman Lamb) today outline why they support Open Britain. The organisation will build a large cross-party platform (through the creation of a new All Party Parliamentary Group) to influence proceedings in Parliament and shape the debate as the UK-EU negotiations proceed.

But Open Britain is primarily a grassroots organisation, with over 500,000 registered supporters; tens of thousands of signed-up volunteers; over 1,000 regularly-donating ‘founding supporters’; and hundreds of extremely energetic ‘super-volunteers’, who led regional and local teams of volunteers during the referendum campaign.

Commenting on the launch of Open Britain, the former Conservative Cabinet Minister and leading supporter of Open Britain, Anna Soubry MP, said:

“Getting the best deal for Britain means starting the negotiations with ambitious goals. Britain is an ambitious country and we cannot succeed if we do not start with high ambitions.

“The campaign will marry a commitment to Britain’s membership of the Single Market with making a positive case about the benefits of immigration. The present system needs further reform. It's particularly important people know the facts about immigration, we tackle their concerns and ensure the system works fairly for everyone.”

The former Business Minister and Labour Shadow Europe Minister and leading supporter of Open Britain, Pat McFadden MP, said:

“The referendum decided that the UK would leave the European Union but it still left big, open questions about our future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. These issues could have a major impact on jobs, investment, trade and employment rights in the future.

“Open Britain will not just argue for the best deal with Europe but for a more fundamental reform of our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few. We do not believe that people rejected the global economy at the referendum; we believe that their vote was a call to share more equally in it.”

The former Liberal Democrat Health Minister and leading supporter of Open Britain, Norman Lamb MP, said:

“Open Britain will seek to shape the debate in Parliament and in the country based on the principle that Britain is at its best when we are open – open minded, open for business, open to trade and investment, open to talent and open to both Europe and the world. These principles should be at the heart of the Government's negotiating position.

“The campaign has started the ball rolling in this debate, which will have many twists and turns. But it is vital that those who share our values speak up and do not cede the field to others outside of the centre-ground to dominate the argument.”