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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron: Why Lib Dems will continue to fight for the single market

February 14, 2017 1:30 PM
By NewsHound | in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron portrait in front of WestminsterTim Farron has written a powerful article in the FT accusing Theresa May of sacrificing the British economy as Labour stand by and help her.

We have tried to bring sanity to the debate, tabling amendments in the House of Commons to retain single-market membership, to allow EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK to keep their right to remain, and to give the British people a vote on the final Brexit deal. Mrs May, though, is not listening. She has crushed opposition from her MPs and made the political decision to sacrifice the British economy. The situation has been made worse by a divided Labour party that has failed to oppose the government's Brexit strategy. Labour has not merely failed to provide an opposition, it has conspired to help the Conservatives risk the stability of the UK economy.

He outlines the damage that leaving the single market would do:

For our efforts, we have been denounced as democratic deniers and enemies of the people. It would be amusing if the Conservatives were not pushing Britain towards an economic shock. A series of reports puts the price of leaving the single market as high as £200bn over 15 years. Liberal Democrats are not only standing up for the 48 per cent who backed Remain but also for Leave voters who do not understand why Mrs May would choose to lose regulatory control over exports to our largest market - all against a darkening economic picture. The UK economy is being buoyed by consumer spending but with public-sector wage caps, rising inflation and deep cuts to public spending, few are betting that shoppers will spare the government's blushes for much longer.

After all, Carolyn Fairbairn, the head of the CBI, said businesses were "reeling" from her hard Brexit speech. Each day throws up another consequence of Brexit that ministers have not considered. The government has just announced plans to build more houses; the only issue is that if the construction industry is to build them and all the other big-ticket infrastructure projects, it will need a 35 per cent increase in labour. Yet if the Brexiters cut all labour access to EU-27 nationals, the UK labour market may shrink by 9 per cent. It is scant consolation for the damage threatened by hard Brexit but many large companies are now looking to the Liberal Democrats as the party of business. The Conservatives, once acclaimed as the party of sound money, have boxed themselves into a nightmare position: they refuse to stay in the single market because of a determination to cut immigration. But doing so without raising the skills of the British workforce would hugely damage the economy.

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.