Labour must fight for single market membership

UK-flag-and-European-flag.pngStaying in the single market – and averting the Tory plan to turn Britain into a Singapore-style economy – must be at the heart of Labour’s brexit strategy, writes Progress director Richard Angell

First published on ProgressOnline

‘We’ll fight to secure single market membership’ are the bold words on the Labour party webpage about the Tories’ failed Brexit plan ahead of the recent election. They remain there to this day. This is the only way of having a ‘job-first Brexit’ and is the basic lifeline needed for British manufacturing to continue. This is all before we consider how we protect the vital income public services receive from the financial services industry and others. As Alison McGovern said at Progress annual conference, staying in the single market is the best anti-austerity policy the Labour party can support right now. If you need more convincing of this, Jeremy Cliffe of the Economic explained it best.

It is therefore perverse that the Labour leadership seem to echo a Tory line about membership of the single market and the European Union that is simply not true. And wrong of Barry Gardiner to say Britain would be better outside the custom’s union. Heidi Alexander puts it better than I ever could in the Guardian today, I suggest you take a read.

Brexit may well be happening but I am yet to be convinced that anyone voted to be poorer, to be less likely to have a job and make it more difficult for their company to feed and be fed by their supply chain. It would be a total misreading of Labour’s historic role as the worker’s party to aid and abet a Tory plan to ruin the economy and damage the incomes of working people. We should listen and understand people’s fears on immigration, and we can act accordingly where the points are fair and the action is possible – as I wrote in a piece last week for the New Statesman. But to support the hardest of Brexits and a Tory plan to turn Britain into a Singapore-style economy would be wrong.

Young people deserve the future they voted for on 8 June 2017. Staying in the single market and the customs union is just the start of it.


Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell

NB: The text on Labour’s Brexit page has been amended since this article was written. ‘We’ll fight to secure single market membership’ now reads ‘We’ll fight for tariff-free access to the single market’

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