MEPs urge Theresa May to keep Single Market membership

08 January 2018

A cross-party group of British MEPs, including Labour MEPs for the North East Paul Brannen and Jude Kirton-Darling, have signed a letter asking Theresa May to keep Britain in the Single Market and Customs Union even after Brexit. MEPs argued that Britain risks becoming a “rule taker” rather than a “rule maker” after Brexit, and that continued membership would help the us maintain the most influence.

The letter, originally published in The Guardian, states:

"As British MEPs from across the political spectrum, we are writing to express our deep concern at the Government’s decision to pull Britain out of the Single Market.

It is a lamentable irony that, having helped create the Single Market and been so central to shaping its rules, successive British governments have so singularly failed to explain to the public the many benefits it has brought to our country. Having common and constantly evolving European standards has not only increased trade and delivered great prosperity, it has time and again proved to be the best way of managing the many challenges posed by globalisation.

Few in the UK will have noticed but in the year and a half since the referendum, some major and valuable changes have taken place in how the largest free trade area in the world works.

Europe is leading the way in tackling corporate tax avoidance. In the past year, Apple and Amazon have been forced to pay back huge sums to national governments in Ireland (£11 billion) and Luxembourg (£222 million). Plans are now underway to rewrite tax rules for technology companies, aimed at increasing governments’ tax take from companies with an international footprint.

The rules around free movement are also being reformed. Changes to the Posted Workers’ Directive will tackle the undercutting of wages that can take place when workers from one country are “posted” to work in another.

The Single Market continues to create new benefits for consumers too. Brits on holiday this summer will have enjoyed significant savings on their phone bills after mobile roaming charges were scrapped across the continent in June. And new rules for an emerging digital single market are creating greater choice for consumers, who will be able to choose which European website they want to buy products from, without being blocked or automatically re-routed to a domestic website as they are now.

The EU is deepening its trading relationship with the rest of the world too, agreeing new deals with major economies like Canada and Japan and set to launch talks with Australia and New Zealand to add to the trade deals it already has in place with more than 60 countries.

Leaving the EU means giving up our seat at Europe’s top table and risks making us a rule taker rather than a rule maker. The best way to secure Britain’s prosperity would be to remain close to Europe, inside the Single Market and Customs Union, and to secure a deal that keeps Britain in the room.

Sadly, this no longer seems likely. So if the price of a Brexit turns out to be a loss of control over the rules and an economy that will leave us poorer, people have every right to keep an open mind about whether the Brexit course chartered by our Government is the right path for our country."

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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