ONE of the founders of Vote Leave has admitted that the UK should have stayed in the single market after Brexit to ‘avoid a lot of problems’.
Lord Daniel Hannan, who was a Conservative MEP from 2009 to 2018 and played a leading role in the Brexit campaign, made the dramatic claim in a Telegraph article.
He wrote: “We should have stayed in the single market, but joining now would be madness.
“Leaving the market was a shake-up, but it was an opportunity to deregulate. Instead ministers are keeping rules that we fought to repeal.”
The Board of Trade adviser’s comments come after Conservative backbench MP Tobias Ellwood sparked a heated row within the Conservative Party with an article suggesting the UK should join the EU’s single market.
In his column, Hannan says he wanted a Swiss-style deal with the EU in which the country would have partial access to its single market in return for a financial contribution.
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Despite this, he says “positions have hardened” on the Remain and Leave sides in the build-up to the referendum – making this argument more difficult.
On results day, Hannan says he was still anticipating a Swiss-style deal – but as the EU exit process grew more complicated, he realized that ‘moderate Brexit’ had disappeared from the EU. agenda.
Hannan’s main problem with the final decision to leave the single market seems to be that the Conservative government has not used its ‘freedom’ enough.
“Having chosen total freedom over short-term convenience, we have made only the most paltry attempts, milk and water, to exercise that freedom,” he asserts. “Our trade policy remains only slightly less mercantilist than that of the EU – even our talks with Australia and New Zealand have been undermined by agrarian protectionism.”
He continues: “Repeatedly, ministers hesitated to make choices that risked being criticized in the short term.
“Brexit could have created a freer, more prosperous and more inclusive Britain. Instead, we pursue semi-socialist economic policies that sound good in the short term, but doom us to poverty in the long run.
Leading EU law expert Jessica Simor QC has suggested Hannan’s admission is a sign that “the tide is turning” – and told top Brexiteers to “take note”.
— Jessica Simor QC (@JMPSimor) June 5, 2022
“When Lord Hannan of Kingsclere, founding member of Vote Leave and major ERG headbanger, writes positively about EU trade membership, you know something has changed,” another commenter added.
After Leave won the Brexit referendum, the SNP offered to ensure Scotland could continue to access the single market. The party was ignored by the UK government – while Northern Ireland’s deal with the EU, which votes for the rest, meant the province would get ‘the best of both worlds’, according to Michael Gove.
Today, Northern Ireland’s economy surpasses that of the rest of the United Kingdom. According to a recent report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, this is “partly the result of the Northern Ireland Protocol…and the terms of trade and investment under the single market and the EU customs union”.
Michael Russell, who served as the Scottish Government’s Constitutional Secretary during the Brexit process, was frustrated by Hannan’s comments.
“As [the Scottish Government] argued consistently until May’s speech at Lancaster House and beyond,” he recalled. “But May was too scared of hardline Tories – like Hannan – to compromise and so rejected the obvious…continue [sic] single market relationship.”
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SNP spokesperson for Europe, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, added: “Hannan’s comments simply underline the fact that there was no ‘vision’ for Brexit, with the Leave campaign deliberately avoiding any possible discussion of what leaving the EU would actually mean – beyond the nonsense of “Brexit means Brexit!”
“The SNP has repeatedly called on the Conservative Government to remain a member of the Single Market, including in the Scottish Government’s 2016 report: Scotland’s Place in Europe. They ignored us, as always, and dragged us out of the EU, and the world’s largest trading bloc, against our will.
“Scottish Government modeling shows that Scotland is disproportionately affected by Brexit, with Scotland’s GDP expected to be 6% lower – or £9bn worse – by 2030.”
She went on to say that independence would “put Scotland’s future in her own hands” and allow the country to work together on the international stage.
Meanwhile, Brexit is hammering the rest of the economy “at the worst possible time”, according to the SNP.
A report released last week by the Food and Drink Federation found that exports to the EU fell by 17.3% in the first quarter of 2022, accounting for more than £600million lost.
Salmon was particularly hard hit with a 25% drop.
A 10.7% increase in exports to the rest of the world did not compensate for EU trade losses after Brexit.
“The only way for Scotland to escape the long-term damage of Brexit is to become an independent country and join the EU and the largest single trading bloc – one that is seven times larger than the UK market” , said the shadow of the SNP. Environment Secretary Deidre Brock.