“If you want single market, vote for it” – Lib Dems challenge Labour
The Liberal Democrats have laid down a challenge to Keir Starmer by telling him to back an amendment to the EU Withdrawl Bill if Labour is serious about now supporting membership of the single market.
Starmer claimed in The Observer that following a U-turn, Labour would now support membership of the single market during a transitional deal, though refused to make a long-term commitment to Britain remaining in the world’s largest market. Jeremy Corbyn has previously ruled out staying in the single market.
The Liberal Democrats will table an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to force a vote on whether Britain should leave the European Economic Area and therefore the single market. The party will also seek to amend the Bill to retain membership of the customs union.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:
“This Bill is a chance to take a wrecking ball to the extreme Brexit agenda being pursued by this government. Labour needs to make up its mind whether it is with the Conservatives, seeking to take us out of the single market and customs union, or with the Liberal Democrats who want to protect jobs by remaining inside.
“We will use every opportunity to defend Britain’s membership of the single market and customs union on which so many people’s jobs and living standards rely.”
The current wording of the Bill (p.54, paragraphs 12 – 17) would repeal the 1993 EEA Act which implements the EEA agreement into UK law.
But there is ongoing legal debate over whether the government has the authority to leave the EEA without a separate parliamentary vote.
Tom Brake added:
“There is a growing consensus that parliament must have the final say over whether to leave the European Economic Area.
“If ministers were expecting to ram through their extreme Brexit plans with no accountability, they might be in for a nasty surprise.”