28/12/2017 13:54 GMT | Updated 28/12/2017 13:55 GMT

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford Calls For New Year Summit To Halt Hard Brexit

'Dear Jeremy.'

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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has written to his fellow opposition party leaders to ask for a New Year summit on fighting hard Brexit. 

Nicola Sturgeon wants Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders to back efforts to retain UK membership of the single market and customs union.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and Green Party are all committed to the policy, but Blackford is calling on all parties, including Labour and pro-soft Brexit Tories, to co-ordinate a plan to stop hard Brexit.  

He has invited them to meet in the House of Commons on January 8. 

In particular, Blackford hopes Corbyn will shift his position to “protect jobs, incomes, and workers’ rights” as he asked the Labour leader to offer “strong leadership and straight talking, honest politics” on the potential risks of Brexit. 

He 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.” 

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has previously said Labour wanted Britain to remain “in a customs union and a single market”.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants the UK to stay in "a single market and a customs union" but has vowed his party will respect the result of the referendum. 

Under his party, Britain would agree to continued payments to the EU in order to secure “full participation” of the single market and the “full benefits” of the customs union. Free movement would end, Starmer said, but “easy movement” would replace it. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, has underlined that his party is not in favour of a second Brexit referendum. 

Blackford added: “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.”

Ian Blackford’s letter to Jeremy Corbyn in full

Dear Jeremy,

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 FridayAgreement. 

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