The single market is the most important element of the EU and the EEA. I strongly believe that remaining in it would be contrary to the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU in the referendum.
The amendment passed in the House of Lords would force the Government to secure UK participation in the EEA. This would mean automatic membership of the single market. Freedom of movement would still apply and it would prevent us from having any more control over the number of people coming to this country. It would also mean continuing to accept all EU rules with little influence over them and no vote on the final legislation. I believe that to remain in the EEA would give us a worse deal than we have at the moment.
The Government has been clear throughout the negotiations that it will guarantee workers’ rights, consumer protection and environmental protection. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill currently passing through Parliament will ensure that this happens and will transfer all EU law into UK law at the point of the UK’s departure.
I want us to continue trading with the EU as close partners, allies and friends. My ministerial colleagues are seeking the best possible deal and I am confident that a mutually beneficial trade agreement will be reached.