Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, used his visit to Brighton’s Entrepreneurial Spark to express his support for the single market.
Tim Farron rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestions that supporting continued membership of the single market is ‘Free Trade Dogma’, saying that free trade is vital to our economy and to millions of jobs.
He also called on Liam Fox to apologise for calling businesses too ‘lazy’ to export, and said that neither Labour not the Conservatives are now willing to stand up for business. His comments came during a visit to the Entrepreneurial Spark in Brighton, an ‘accelerator’ for new businesses run by NatWest. The Accelerator has recently started a course helping businesses get to grips with exporting their goods.
Tim met with a number of businesses, including OMGTea and Simply VAT.com – who help other businesses trade online.
Commenting on the Entrepreneurial Spark Accelerator itself, Tim said: “This is a fantastic example of how financial institutions can help to nurture the next generation of businesses. The work being done here is helping entrepreneurs and business people contribute to their community and to the economy, and I look forward to seeing these companies grow and succeed in the future.
“The businesses I’ve met here are the model for what is great about the UK: entrepreneurs and innovators. Yet Labour seems now content to reject free trade, while Liam Fox, who is supposed to be promoting businesses, is calling them lazy. It seems neither the Conservatives or Labour are prepared to fight for the open, tolerant and united country that will create the environment for businesses to succeed.
“Let’s be clear: free trade is a good thing. It creates jobs, increases prosperity and helps pay for things like the NHS, schools and public services.
“Suggesting that supporting free trade is about some right-wing ‘dogma’ simply ignores the fact that all of our livelihoods are improved because of free trade – including through our membership of the single market.”
Tim Farron also made clear that any Brexit deal which does not include full membership of the single market would be a disaster for businesses, saying: “Despite endlessly parroting ‘Brexit means Brexit’, the Government seems increasingly to favour ‘hard Brexit’ with withdrawal from both the single market and even the EU customs union.
“There would be no better way to clip the wings of business than to create additional red tape when trading with our single largest export market. Such a decision would be unacceptable to business and deeply damaging to our economy.”