MPs seek to ‘make it real’ on single market

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Opposition MPs campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU single market have pledged to “make it real” for ordinary workers by demonstrating the impact on jobs and public services.

After meeting with TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, the group made of the Westminster leaders of the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens announced it would hold public hearings with leading businesses from across the UK to drive home the impact of leaving the single market.

The group is also seeking a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said the campaign to keep the UK in the single market had to “win hearts and minds” as well as parliamentary battles by convincing the public of the impact on everything from farming and the steel industry, to care homes and pothole repairs.

“Think about austerity and what that has meant for people... if there is going to be a real cut in growth as a consequence of not staying in the single market and customs union, it means that the government is going to be taking in less tax,” Mr Blackford said.

“That has an impact in terms of lengthening the period of austerity, and what that means for investment in public services... what it means for schools, what it means for hospitals, what it means for roads.”

He added: “We need to have that dialogue, because I understand that people can get bored with what’s happening in parliament - there they go again, a bunch of politicians going on about Brexit. What does it actually mean for people?”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable MP said: “Frances O’Grady reminded us that the majority of workers voted to remain in the EU. It’s their pockets that will be hit by the Conservatives’ needless red lines.”

Following talks with Theresa May and David Davis in Downing Street, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt called on the UK to remain close to the EU, either by staying in the single market or signing an association agreement.

“If the UK stays very near to the rules of the European Union that will secure jobs in Britain. That will be the best way forward for the British economy,” he said. “My preferential choice would be that Britain still is part of the single market, still is part of the customs union, then most problems would be solved.”