Commenting ahead of the Commons debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill today and the refusal by the Labour leadership to back a cross-party Lords’ amendment calling on the UK to join the EEA, Molly Scott Cato said:

“To block this winnable amendment on the pretext that joining the EEA prevents the UK being in a customs union with the EU is disingenuous. Michel Barnier made clear to me personally during a private meeting yesterday that EEA membership – which would keep the UK in the single market – together with a customs union is a totally feasible model.

“The truth is, Labour won’t support this model because of their own red lines – especially freedom of movement. They should be honest about that and stop dressing up their opposition with legalistic justification.

“The EU will not accept Labour’s “full access” policy because it would be an ‘exceptionalism’ deal that undermines the four freedoms. It is unworkable cake-ism. Neither will Tories vote for it, and Labour knows this. So a failure to back the cross-party amendment on EEA membership risks handing hard Brexit to the Tories on a plate; it is a clear example of Labour putting party before country.  

“If Labour is genuinely committed to a Brexit that protects jobs and safeguards our economy, keeping the UK in the single market and a customs union is essential. And backing the Lords’ EEA amendment has the best chance of achieving this.”

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