Brexit POLL: Should UK rejoin EU to help ease cost of living crisis after MP’s plea? VOTE

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The MP for Bournemouth East claimed there is an “appetite” to make “course corrections” to the current model, claiming recent polling suggests “this is not the Brexit most people imagined”. Mr Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, said “more radical thinking is required if we are to energise our economy through these stormy waters”.

He said Brexit in its current form had sparked a number of challenges, including shrinking exports to Europe and issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Ellwood added that these and other problems would “disappear” if the UK chose to rejoin the single market.

However, he was met with forceful rebuttals from Tory colleagues, including Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat.

He said: “Let’s plan for the future and stop looking back. This decision is made.”

Former chief whip Mark Harper added: “The UK voted to leave the EU. That meant leaving the single market and putting an end to freedom of movement. The end.”

Treasury minister Simon Clarke said he was pleased to reassure Mr Ellwood that the UK would not be rejoining the single market as this would extinguish half the freedoms that make Brexit so important.

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost appeared to suggest Mr Ellwood – who has publicly said Prime Minister Boris Johnson no longer has his support – would not be suited to the top job, saying: “Brexit really is not safe in his hands or his allies.”

Writing in The House magazine, Mr Ellwood conceded his suggestion would require acceptance of some EU regulations, but argued one common standard may be better than two for UK industry.

He also acknowledged there are understandable reservations about the free movement of people in relation to benefit claims which “would need addressing”, but claimed this is not insurmountable.

Mr Ellwood wrote: “Let’s not forget, both Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher endorsed this model, with the view that the potential economic benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“If joining the single market (with conditions) results in strengthening our economy, easing the cost-of-living crisis, settling the Irish problem at a stroke and promoting our European credentials as we take an ever greater lead in Ukraine, would it not be churlish to face this reality?”

Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, June 2, Mr Ellwood described the issue as a “hot potato”, but said people should not “shy away” from the subject.

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He said: “Joining that single market, I believe, would strengthen our economy because it would remove so much red tape, it would ease the cost-of-living crisis, it would actually settle the difficult Irish problem on the Northern Ireland Protocol… and finally, it’s also to do with boosting our European credentials.

“Because we are now taking a lead in Europe on Ukraine, but the fact that this Brexit issue – particularly on Northern Ireland – is unresolved means, you know, we’re pulled back on this.”

The furore comes as experts warned the Platinum Jubilee fervour driving shoppers back to bricks-and-mortar stores is “fragile” and could be upended by the cost of living crisis.

According to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), visitor numbers inched up 0.6 percent between April and May, but are down 12.5 percent since 2019.

However, this is ahead of Italy, France and Germany, where the three-year decline stands at around a fifth.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted that footfall, up for the third month in a row, had been spurred on by Platinum Jubilee parties.

She said: “The anticipation for the Jubilee celebrations offered an added boost to footfall, with the public hitting the shops to find the best decorations and festive food and drink for the long weekend.”

However, Ms Dickinson cautioned that this modest increase could be wiped away by rising inflation and falling consumer confidence.

She said: “Improvement to footfall remains fragile as the cost-of-living bites.

“With UK discretionary incomes falling, government’s financial support to tackle surging energy costs may only provide temporary respite for households.”

Visitors to shopping centres have plummeted by a quarter in the last three years while high street footfall dropped 13.6 percent – though this is up 3.6 percent in a month.

Retail parks missed out on a Jubilee boost, with numbers dropping 6.3 percent since 2019 and 2.3 percent since April.

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