Theresa May has been accused by Tim Farron of a “theft of democracy” after she announced the British government would take the UK out of the single market.
May said today the UK “cannot possibly” remain a member of the single market as to do so would be the same as “not leaving the EU at all”.
Instead she said she would push for the “greatest possible” access to the market following Brexit.
The position has come as a blow to MPs who were keen for the UK to maintain much closer links to the EU.
Farron attacked May for assuming people who voted ‘Leave’ in June had voted to leave the single market. “She has made the choice to do massive damage to the British economy,” he said.
In her speech setting out her plan for Brexit today, the prime minister confirmed parliament would be given a vote on the final deal.
However the Lib Dem leader wants a second referendum on the deal to give the public a chance to approve or reject it.
“Theresa May also made clear that she will deny the people a vote on the final deal. So instead of a democratic decision by the people in the country, she wants a stitch-up by politicians in Westminster. The people voted for departure, they should be given a vote on the destination. This is a theft of democracy,” he said.
“When it comes to British prosperity and British democracy, she is waiving the white flag from the White Cliffs of Dover.”
Theresa May’s Brexit Speech: Key Points
Parliament will get a vote on the final deal: “I can confirm today that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.”
Regain control of immigration: “The message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver.”
No scrapping of workers’ rights: “That is why, as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers rights are fully protected and maintained.”
Quitting the Customs Union as it currently operates: “Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it. It is not the means that matter, but the ends.”
A transitional period before full Brexit: “We believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest. This will give businesses enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.”
Willing to go back to World Trade Organisation rules: “I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”