Last night, Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords backed a cross-party amendment to keep the UK in the Single Market in the wake of Brexit.
Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by 299 to 136 after the Labour leadership in the Lords failed to support the amendment fighting for membership of the Single Market.
Why does the single market matter?
The single market means it as easy to trade between London and Berlin as it is between Edinburgh and London.
Within the Single Market, goods, people, services and capital can move freely, meaning there are no lengthy customs checks, borders to cross and goods can move freely and cheaply.
Giving up our membership of the Single Market would be catastrophic for our economy and put millions of people’s livelihoods at risk.
Even if we agreed on a deal allowing access to the Single Market (which the Conservatives haven’t even confirmed they’ll be pursuing) it would mean less investment, fewer jobs and no say over the laws that government our access, compared to remaining fully-fledged members.
Could last night have been different?
Yes, it could. Many Labour Lords voted with the Government to block the amendment.
If it had passed, the amendment would have ensured the Government had to go into negotiations with the goal of retaining our membership of the single market.
Disappointingly that’s entirely consistent with Labour’s stance on Brexit so far – time and time again they’ve backed the Government’s plan for a hard Brexit without so much of a whisper of dissent.
By far the best option for our economy is to stay in the Single Market. Whatever deal Theresa May comes back with is quite simply not going to be as good as remaining in the Single Market.
That is why the Liberal Democrats have been working tirelessly to persuade the Government to think again on the single market.