Ruth Davidson urged to join forces with SNP for single market membership

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader in Westminster, said Scottish MPs had an 'historic opportunity' to work together for membership of the single market

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 06 October 2017 09:33 BST
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson (Getty)

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has been urged to instruct her MPs to join forces with other political parties in Scotland in order to retain the country’s membership of the single market.

In comments ahead of the SNP’s annual conference in Glasgow, Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, said Scottish MPs had an “historic opportunity” to “save the UK from the cliff edge” after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Writing in the House magazine, Mr Blackford, who succeeded Angus Robertson after the former leader lost his seat at the general election, said: “The leaders of all of Scotland’s political parties represented at Westminster expressed their commitment to the European single market both before and after the referendum.

“Given these commitments, membership of the single market is firmly on the table – as a direct consequence of the voters’ decision at the general election.”

While such a move is unlikely – as it would mean Scottish Tory MPs defying the Government and Prime Minister’s instruction – Ms Davidson has previously said she wants the UK to have the “largest amount of access” to the tariff-free market after Brexit.

Shortly after the EU referendum in 2016, Ms Davidson, who now wields considerable influence after gaining ground in Scotland at the election, added: “In terms of what I think Brexit looks like and should look like, for me the one thing I have said from the beginning I want access to the single market.

“Scotland’s businesses, firms, manufactures, food and drink, they want access to the single market. “

Mr Blackford continued: “If Scottish Labour MPs can bring unity to their parliamentary colleagues on this issue, working with the SNP as the third biggest party in Westminster and the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs there would be a majority in favour of the single market.”

He added: “The prize is the opportunity to help safeguard jobs, opportunities for young people, safeguard the rights of EU Nationals and the rights that we gained as EU citizens.

“It would also demonstrate a willingness to put party interests to one side for the common good.

“Scotland’s MPs – SNP and others - have an historic opportunity to make our mark, lead and save the UK from the cliff edge of leaving the European single market. We should grab it with both hands.”

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