Senior Tory under fire for arguing Britain should rejoin EU single market
A former Tory minister has come under fire for proposing Britain should rejoin the EU’s single market to ease the cost of living crisis.
Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, argued there is an “appetite” to make “course corrections” to the current model and claimed recent polls suggest “this is not the Brexit most people imagined”.
The chair of the Commons Defense Committee said “more radical thinking is required if we are to power our economy through these stormy waters”.
“If an army general is mid-fight mature enough to refine his strategy to ensure mission success, then the government should do the same,” he added.
He said Brexit in its current form had raised a number of challenges, including dwindling exports to Europe and problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, and that these and other problems would “disappear” if Britain decided to rejoin the single market .
But he faced vigorous rebuttals from Tory colleagues including Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs committee, who said: “Let’s plan for the future and stop looking back. That decision has been made.”
Former Chief Whip Mark Harper said: “Britain voted to leave the EU. That meant leaving the single market and ending freedom of movement. The end.”
Finance Secretary Simon Clarke said he was “pleased to reassure Mr Ellwood” that the UK would not rejoin the single market as it would “wipe out half the freedoms that make Brexit so important”.
Former Brexit Secretary Lord Frost appeared to suggest that Mr Ellwood – who has publicly said Prime Minister Boris Johnson no longer has his support – would not be suited for the top job, saying: “Brexit really is not safe in his hands or his allies.” .”
In an article in The House magazine, Mr Ellwood acknowledged that his proposal “would require the acceptance of some EU rules” but argued that “one common standard” might be better for UK industry than two.
He also acknowledged that there were “understandable reservations” about the free movement of people in relation to benefit claims that “need to be addressed”, but claimed this was “not insurmountable”.
“Let us not forget that both Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher advocated this model, believing that the potential economic benefits outweighed the disadvantages,” he wrote.
“If joining the single market (with conditions) means strengthening our economy, alleviating the cost of living crisis, solving the Irish problem in one fell swoop and boosting our European credentials while we take ever-greater leadership in Ukraine, right? rude to face that reality?”
Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Mr Ellwood described the issue as a “hot potato” but said people shouldn’t “shy away” from the issue.
“Joining this single market would, I think, strengthen our economy because so much red tape would be cut, the cost of living crisis would be eased and the difficult Irish issue would actually be resolved under the Northern Ireland Protocol… and finally, it’s also about our European credentials too.” strengthen,” he said.
“Because we are now taking a leadership role in Europe on Ukraine, but the fact that this Brexit issue is unresolved – particularly on Northern Ireland – means you know we are being pulled back from that.”