Stephen Crabb has officially announced his campaign for the Conservative party leadership, pledging to implement border controls with the EU whilst maintaining economic relations.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said he wanted a set of economic arrangements “that approximate as closely as possible to the arrangements we have now”.
He however warned: “What came out really clearly during the referendum campaign was that the thing that matters most was actually getting back control of our immigration. No more open borders.”
Mr Crabb, who is the first Tory MP to officially announce his candidacy, admitted it was “going to be very challenging to reconcile [changes to immigration] with the same kind of full access to the single market that we already have”.
“No one’s being naïve about how difficult it is,” he added.
All countries with full access to the European single market currently have freedom of movement with the EU as a whole. EU officials have in recent days signaled that this is unlikely to change.
Questioned on why he had not voted for same sex marriage when it was proposed by his government, Mr Crabb said he was now happy with the result and that the policy was “not an issue” in the leadership election.
Other candidates expected to declare for the leadership include Boris Johnson, Theresa May. Jeremy Hunt has said he is “seriously considering” a bid and is canvassing support.
The leadership election was triggered after David Cameron stepped down. The Prime Minister said it was right for a new PM to lead Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Mr Cameron stepped down when it became clear the Leave side had won the EU referendum.
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