Even Remainers know Brexit means leaving the single market

During the referendum campaign, there was one thing Remainers and Leavers agreed on: that a vote to Leave meant leaving the European single market. Who are Nick Clegg and co. kidding by denying that now?

One of the Remain rearguard’s transparent attempts to subvert the referendum result is to make out that Leave voters didn’t know what they were voting for. “17.4 million people might have voted for Brexit”, they say. “But they didn’t vote for a particular kind of Brexit”.

“Brexit”, they expect us to believe, is just an empty word. It can mean anything you want it to mean. What the majority thought it meant when they voted for it is an unfathomable mystery.

Except, as anyone who was hasn’t erased their memory of the last nine months knows, it’s not. Throughout the referendum campaign, Brexit campaigners consistently made it clear what a vote to Leave meant. In short:

  • No more EU budget contributions
  • No more freedom of movement
  • Full Parliamentary sovereignty
  • Control over our trade policy – by leaving European customs union
  • Access to – but not membership of – the European single market

The fact that a Leave vote entailed leaving the single market was always a key plank of the Leave campaign. But it wasn’t just Brexiteers who said so – although we did, repeatedly. Remainers said so too. The evidence, conveniently compiled by the Daily Politics, is clear (H/T Guido Fawkes).

Voters weren’t kept in the dark. On the contrary: the majority made a deliberate choice to quit the single market.


Not because they didn’t know what it meant, but because they did. Because single-market membership entails accepting the four freedoms, including freedom of movement. Because – above all – it means Britain couldn’t become a sovereign nation again.

Staying in the single market would mean many of Britain’s laws would still be made by a foreign, supra-national government without the consent of the British people. The question as to who should make Britain’s laws wasn’t a side issue in the referendum campaign. It was absolutely central.

Apparently it’s too much to expect that trying to impose an outcome that the majority of voters expressly rejected would be beneath the dignity of elected representatives. But they should know better than to think voters won’t notice.