Is Theresa May frog-marching us out of the single market through a covert process?

I have now read Theresa May’s speech from the Conservative conference on Sunday.

The key passage appears to be this one (with my bolding):

…we will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the European Union. I want that deal to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy. I want it to include cooperation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism work. I want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. I want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and let European businesses do the same here. But let me be clear. We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

She also said:

So it is not going to a “Norway model”. It’s not going to be a “Switzerland model”.

In the round this all seems to indicate hardish Brexit, but I am not sure she has actually said that we will leave the single market, as Tim Farron surmised.

I have been saying since June that we could have a Norway/Switzerland like model and still control immigration.

If Theresa May has rejected any sort of EFTA/EEA model then that is extremely depressing – not least because it is a decision which appears to have been reached without real debate in Parliament, or indeed even in the Conservative party. I know there are many Conservative MPs who want continued membership of the Single Market.

I fear we are being frog-marched out of the single market by Theresa May through a covert process.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The single market is an issue for the Tories – worth reading the 2015 General Election Manifesto (pages 72/73) where they make a big deal out of remaining in the single market and the impact on British business.

    This was not considered inconsistent with their promise to hold an in/out referendum and to vote to leave the EU…

    It means that there is no government mandate to leave the single market and that must affect the way Parliament (esp the Lords) can/should treat the various bills.

  • Tory back benchers are not the only ones who are concerned:
    Those sizeable donations from the FS industry to the Tories are probably looking like really silly ideas right now…

  • John Peters 4th Oct '16 - 3:07pm

    You are playing with words. The EU single market requires free movement of people. We will not allow free movement of people, ergo we will not be a member of the EU single market.

    Whatever single market we end up in it wont be the EU single market.

  • David Allen 4th Oct '16 - 3:39pm

    John Peters:

    “You are playing with words. …. Whatever single market we end up in it wont be the EU single market.”

    That surely wins the Nobel Prize for Pots-and-Kettles!

  • Membership of the Single Market outside the EU has many advantages over membership of the EU. Yes, we’d make a contribution – but less. And there would be exemptions from EU policies and institutions.

    We could stay in the Single Market and reduce immigration – if we limited in-work benefits for EU migrants. They’d have a right to come here – but it wouldn’t be worthwhile to – priced out of coming here, essentially.

    Yes, David Cameron tried this – but that was part of us staying in the EU.

    Don’t forget that 3/4 of Tory MPs supported Remain. Perhaps when Theresa May saying no Norway or Swiss style option she is NOT discounting membership of EEA – just thinking, in theory we’d have free movement, but in practice, perhaps not.

    I don’t think Tim Farron is credible in suggesting a second referendum on return to EU or the deal on offer. If any second referendum, it should be Hard vs Soft Brexit. Lib Dems must respect and accept the UK voted to leave.

  • Gwynfor Tyley 4th Oct '16 - 8:42pm

    @John B: There can be no hard v soft brexit referendum as we will only be able to negotiate one agreement with the EU. That agreement has to be considered the best brexit that we can achieve after all, it will have been negotiated by our most brilliant brexit politicians – there can be no better agreement.

    The choice then is the best brexit or we stay in the EU, if the rest of the EU let us, after eating suitably gargantuan piles of humble pie.

  • The choice then is the best brexit or we stay in the EU, if the rest of the EU let us, after eating suitably gargantuan piles of humble pie.

    Well if the referendum is held after Article 50 has been triggered, I would not want to be in any hurry to rejoin; remember the terms the UK accepted in 1975 weren’t exactly favourable…

    So the choice is really either invoke Article 50 and see if you can get a better deal than ‘hard’ Brexit, or don’t invoke Article 50 and apply the skills of “our most brilliant brexit politicians” to negotiating a better EU…

    There are plenty of examples of internal transformation from industry: Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

  • Alex Macfie 5th Oct '16 - 3:31am

    ” Lib Dems must respect and accept the UK voted to leave.”

    OK then. In that case, Lib Dems, and all other opposition parties for that matter, must respect and accept the UK voted for a Conservative government, and therefore must support all Conservative government policy.

  • Roland
    “There are plenty of examples of internal transformation from industry”
    Southern England was once the center of the iron industry. Just a few hammer ponds left there now.

  • Does anyone actually like ‘humble pie’?

    Humility is a fine virtue but the thought of going on bended knees with a begging bowl to the EU asking permission to return to the club is enough to make me v—t (left blank in case you are eating your breakfast!)

  • Richard Underhill 5th Oct '16 - 11:12pm

    The PM said explicitly today that the European Court of Justice will not rule the UK.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

    No recent comment found.