Your report of David Lammy’s Chatham House speech (Labour will reconnect ‘tarnished UK’ with European allies, say Lammy, 23 January) states that he would “stress Labour has no intention of returning either to the EU single market or the customs union, regarded by Labour as issues that were settled irrevocably by the 2016 referendum”.
Let’s be clear: leaving the single market and customs union was not part of the leave prospectus in 2016; indeed, several prominent Brexiters gave assurances that the UK’s place in the single market and customs union was not at risk. It was Theresa May, in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017, who made the decision to leave the single market and customs union.
Labour should not be colluding in the fiction that these issues were “settled irrevocably by the referendum”. They were not. If Labour is serious about correcting the damage caused by “the government’s bad Brexit deal” it should start from a correct account of the historical record: the decision to leave the single market and customs union was taken by the Conservative government, not by the people.
Prof Paul Willner