The reality that we would all be better off if we were still in the Single Market needs to be spelled out – letter to Lib Dem Leadership

To Ed Davey and Liberal Democrats in Westminster

There is a conspiracy of silence on the harm resulting from Brexit that Liberal Democrats need to break.

Naked truths

The UK economy is lagging behind other European countries; inflation is increasing, growth is poor, customs costs are preventing small businesses from selling to the EU, hauliers and travellers are facing long delays at the ports, increased transport costs and stifling bureaucracy are making realities either; there is an omerta: a mendacious and damaging denial of reality.

The situation presents an opportunity, an open goal, that the leadership is not exploiting. It is self evident that we would be better off if we were still in the Single Market. This needs to be said. Since Labour cannot say it, Liberal Democrats and the parliamentary party can gain media attention simply by stating naked truths.

Commerce with Europe less competitive, business confidence is low and shortages of qualified staff are causing health and care services to be over-stretched. The list goes on, but in each case these problems are caused or greatly exacerbated by Brexit. This is the reality that the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge. Having voted for the Brexit TCA, Labour will not or cannot express the Although as a Party we have endorsed a detailed and forward looking policy on rebuilding a productive and rewarding relationship with the EU, we hear too little from our leaders. Whilst we understand that a vow to rejoin the EU and its Single Market can raise questions that are not so simply answered, yet on a range of issues, we can and should state clearly that we would have been better off in the Single Market and Customs Union. There should be no difficulty in saying this when even the government’s own Office for Budget Responsibiltiy has spelled out that with exports and imports reduced by 15% compared to if the UK had remained in the EU, the reduction in productivity in terms of GDP is assessed as 4%.

Regardless of attempts to manipulate perceptions, reality is unavoidable, denial of reality inevitably ends badly. It has to be better to be truthful about reality.

Truth matters, disregard for truth has infected public life. The falsehoods, the lack of integrity and contempt for parliamentary process that are also by-products of Brexit need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, we need to see our leaders in Westminster speaking out.

The status quo is unsustainable: the more equitable Liberal society that our party stands for depends on a healthy economy. In turn sustained economic growth depends on a closer, more cooperative relationship with the EU.

Why have we allowed the mutually beneficial cooperation in science and education to be so carelessly cast aside? The truth needs to be told that UK higher education and research is losing out where it had been an important beneficiary.

Of all political parties in the UK, the Liberal Democrats with our close association to sister parties across the EU, is best placed to lead in building up a more healthy spirit of trust and cooperation. It is understood in the EU that all stand to benefit from a more united Europe and although Brexit is not a headline issue, a more collaborative and cooperative UK would be well received. However doubts need to be dispelled about how far the UK is prepared to be cooperative. Needless to say, Liberal Democrats across Europe are ready to play our part in rebuilding trust.

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