SNP leader writes letter

Blackford appeals for cross-party Brexit campaign

Ian Blackford

Ian Blackford: time for politicians to work together

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford is calling for a cross-party coalition to oppose Conservative plans to pull Britain out of the single European market and customs union.

Mr Blackford has written to all the opposition leaders in the House of Commons inviting them to a New Year cross-party summit on the issue.

The move to coordinate cross-party efforts comes as the UK government enters the second phase of UK-EU Brexit negotiations with the focus turning to trade.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party are all committed to remaining in the single market and customs union.

The SNP believe a parliamentary majority to protect Scotland and the UK’s membership can be secured if the Labour Party gets behind cross-party efforts, and if soft Brexit Tories come on board with the plans.

Opposition leaders have been invited to the meeting in the Commons on 8 January, the first day back from the Westminster Christmas recess.

Mr Blackford said: “As we move into the crucial second phase of the Brexit negotiations it is now absolutely vital that we have an effective cross-party effort to safeguard our membership of the single market and customs union.

“Extreme Tory Brexit plans to drag Scotland and the UK out of the single market would cause catastrophic damage to the economy – costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, and hitting people’s incomes, livelihoods and living standards for decades to come.

“It is time for MPs of all parties to put politics aside and work together, in the national interest, to protect our place in the single market and customs union. Short of retaining our EU membership, that is by far the least damaging option, the best compromise, and the only way to protect jobs, incomes, and workers’ rights.

“As we saw with the successful amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, when opposition parties work together effectively it is possible to secure a parliamentary majority and deliver change in the national interest.

“Those who say they care about people’s jobs and incomes must now look at the evidence, look at their conscience, and get behind cross-party efforts. Anyone who stays on the fence, and allows dogmatic Brexiteers to drag us out of the single market, will bear equal responsibility when people’s jobs are lost and their incomes are slashed.

“More than ever the UK desperately needs strong leadership and straight talking, honest politics – that is what the SNP will continue to provide as we focus our efforts on retaining our place in the single market to protect our economy and safeguard jobs.”

Text of Ian Blackford’s letter: 

In recent weeks there has been a clear signal from the business community and Members across the House that the best way forward in Phase two negotiations for the UK exiting the EU would be to protect our current membership of the single market and customs union.

I hope you will join me at 17:00 on Monday 8th January 2018, the first day after the Christmas recess, to discuss how we can work together in Parliament to secure the UK’s continued membership of the single market. 

As Fraser of Allander analysis has revealed, leaving the single market would risk up to 80,000 jobs and £2,000 per person in Scotland every year.

“We know from Bank of England analysis that 75,000 jobs in the City are at risk with a hard Brexit. Across the UK, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be at stake alongside people’s incomes, livelihoods and living standards.

The General Secretary of the TUC has also spoken out on the need for the UK to stay in the single market for guarantees that workers’ rights will be protected.

And it’s not just the economy we need to protect. Communities along the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland need certainty for their own livelihoods that a UK staying in the single market would provide. 

The SNP have been clear – work with us to keep the UK in the single market and stop a catastrophic Tory Brexit which threatens jobs, the economy and the Good Friday Agreement. 

I look forward to hearing from you and meeting for this single market summit in Parliament on Monday 8th January 2018. 

Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster Leader

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