2018-02-11 10:12:29 UTC
Increasingly, supporters of Brexit are claiming that we were told
before the referendum that we would be leaving the Single Market and
the Customs Union if we voted Leave.
However, on closer inspection of the Conservative 2015 Election
Manifesto and the government's infamous leaflet, this is not actually
spelled out anywhere.
Conversely, the government in its 2015 manifesto cannot be clearer
about its wholehearted commitment to the Single Market. Here are some
phrases from the manifesto:
Page 72: "[We will] reclaim power from Brussels on your behalf and
safeguard British interests in the Single Market"
Page 72: "And we have pursued a bold, positive,
pro-business agenda, exempting smallest businesses from
red tape, promoting free trade, and pushing to extend the
Single Market to new sectors, like digital."
Page 72: "We say: yes to the Single Market."
Page 73: "We benefit from the Single Market and
do not want to stand in the way of the Eurozone resolving
Page 73: "But we will not let the integration of
the Eurozone jeopardise the integrity of the Single Market
or in any way disadvantage the UK."
Page 73: "We want to preserve the integrity of the Single
Market, by insisting on protections for those countries
that have kept their own currencies."
Page 73: "We want to expand the Single Market, breaking down the
remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that new sectors are opened
up to British firms."
Note that the words "customs union do not appear ~any~where in the
Turning to the election leaflet distributed by the Conservatives to
evey household, again the emphasis is very much on maintaining the
"Remaining inside the EU guarantees our full access to its Single
Market. By contrast, leaving creates uncertainty and risk."
"The EUs Single Market has over 500 million customers and an economy
over five times bigger than the UKs."
"The Single Market makes it easier and cheaper for UK companies to
sell their products outside the UK, creating jobs as a result."
"Losing our full access to the EUs Single Market would make exporting
to Europe harder and increase costs."
"A more limited trade deal with the EU would give the UK less access
to the Single Market than we have now -- including for services, which
make up almost 80% of the UK economy."
"The UK will keep full access to the Single Market, with a say on its
Now we turn to the Independent of 5 December 2017:
"The UK did not vote to leave the customs union and single market, no
matter what David Davis says"
"David Davis is right to claim the people have given their verdict on
leaving the customs union and the single market, but it happened in
June of this year, not last
"It would be a great service to our democracy if all elected officials
were made to wear electric-shock collars that activate each time they
said something demonstrably, unequivocally untrue.
"Firstly it would, in theory, discourage MPs from saying things they
know to be untrue, but there would be further secondary benefits too.
"Since the rise of time-shifted TV, climactic episodes of EastEnders
and their subsequent mass rush to the kettle can no longer be counted
upon to provide regular stress tests of the National Grid, that
crucial task could be undertaken via David Daviss regular statements
to the House of Commons on Brexit.
"This is not to suggest Davis himself is solely to blame. Indeed, so
regular and repeated are the same untruths constantly told by the same
people it already bears every outward resemblance to some kind of
perversion to which the addition of on-demand electrocution risks
making matters worse.
"To be clear: David Davis. Jacob Rees-Mogg. Bernard Jenkin. Listen. On
the 23 June 2016 the United Kingdom did not vote to leave the customs
union and the single market. That. Did. Not. Happen. Now, we can all
accept that you really, really, really wish it did happen. No one is
doubting the sincerity or the depth of your own desires, but that does
not make them true. No matter how many times you say it, it doesnt
make it true.
"The context of all this: on Tuesday lunchtime, Davis was called to
the despatch box to give an explanation to the deal or no deal chaos
that unfolded in Brussels, Belfast, London and Dublin yesterday.
Theresa May arrived in Brussels hoping to announce an agreement with
the EU on the Irish border issue, only to find it vetoed by her own
partners in government, the Democratic Unionist Party. As Labours
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer pithily put it, it is one
thing to fall out with those on the other side of negotiating table;
quite another to fall out with your own side.
"Indeed it is. Davis sought to pre-but all this by laughing it off in
his usual manner. The graver, the situation, the harder Davis laughs.
Thank goodness the territorial SAS never sent him on active service,
or you can imagine the man dissolving into levels of hysterics not
seen since Ian Botham failed to get his leg over on Test Match
"At the heart of the question, youll know, is the vaguely and wrongly
floated idea that Northern Ireland might remain in the customs union
and single market after Brexit, which the DUP has made clear it
doesnt want but London, Scotland, Grimsby, various towns around Dover
and the car industry do.
" 'The idea of leaving one part of the United Kingdom behind, that is
emphatically not what we are doing.' Davis said. Absolutely not. The
whole of the United Kingdom is coming out of the single market and the
"Bernard Jenkin reminded the house that last June 'the people didnt
vote for some half-in, half-out solution', by which, as ever, he means
Bernard Jenkin didnt vote for some half-in, half-out solution, and as
to the wider motivations of the other 17.5 million people, he has no
"Jacob Rees-Mogg rose to make the point that 'regulatory divergence is
an indelible red line'. In other words, that peace and stability in
Northern Ireland is a small sacrifice to lay upon the altar of Jacob
Rees-Moggs private Brexit-related fantasies.
"Representative democracy and referenda go together like oil and
water, that much has been clear for a while now. And although its far
too late for this particular crowd to acknowledge the words written on
the ballot paper last June were not what they imagined them to be,
youd think it mightnt be too hard for them to remember a few words
repeated, ad infinitum by their own party leader and Prime Minister
far more recently than that.
"For they are right that leaving the single market and the customs
union has indeed been put before the people, not yet six months ago.
'Strengthen my hand in the negotiations with Brussels,' Theresa May
said, over and over and over again, and on this explicit question, the
people passed their verdict, and we are left where we are.
"By the way, every development in the Brexit process that tilts the UK
further toward hard Brexit can be spotted via a drop in the pound, and
this latest Brussels farrago was no exception. Eventually, the penny
might drop too. But not yet."
"Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth", and that lie is
now being thrown around like confetti on every Brexit-related talk
show, on Question Time, on Any Questions, on Newsnight --
everywhere, in fact, where Brexiters have their say.
Brexit ministers and other Brexit supporters insist that the people
knew exactly, definitely on Referendum Day that a vote to leave the EU
would also mean leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, yet
as I have pointed out, neither the Tory manifesto, nor its leaflet
states this anywhere.