Thursday, 12 October 2017
Labour and the Single Market: facing both ways.
My MP Tracy Brabin (Labour) states in her election literature (I kept a copy) that she would "fight for . . .full access to the single market." (I quote her exactly).
Consequently, when she failed to vote vote for Chuka Umunna's single market amendment to the Queen's Speech to achieve just that, and failed to sign an open letter from 40+ Labour stalwarts also demanding the policy she said she would fight for, I asked why?
I now have a response, (addressed to "Dear Peter," though I've never met her.)
As our trading relationship with the EU changes it is vital that we retain unrestricted access for our goods and services. However remaining in the single market and the customs union once we have left the European union would not be advantageous for us.
This is "double-think" worthy of Orwell's 1984.
Most traders will have access to the single market, but we shall only retain "unrestricted " access if we remain a member of it.
Yesterday on the BBC's "Today" programme a manufacturer argued that the EU's Common External Tariff (CET) would not be a significant barrier because the 15% depreciation of the £ as a result of the Referendum more than compensated for it. (So much for the scorn that the Tories used to heap on Labour as "the party of devaluation.")
But in international trade today tariffs are relatively minor impediment compared with non-tariff barriers (NTBs): that is that goods and services must comply with certain standards regarding origin, contents, labelling (remember the fuss about weighing things in grammes and kgs rather than lbs and ozs?) safety , environmental impact etc.
If Brexit is not stopped the Briexiteers will doubtless hail a trade deal with the US. This will almost certainly be on US terms and allow access to the UK market for items such as chlorine washed chicken and beef products raised with excessive use of hormones. These are the ones there's been publicity about: there will be many more that Europeans. find unacceptable.
The EU is not going to allow "unrestricted " access to these products.
Labour's current stance is therefore completely illusory, and no different from the the Government's "have your cake and eat it" delusion .
It is shameful that, with a government living in a "land of let's pretend" the official Opposition occupies identical ground. Their duty is to propose a viable alternative.
There are Labour MPs who recognise this. And there's a Labour Campaign for the Single Market. All power to their elbows, and I urge Mrs Brabin to stand by her election promise and join them.