Can we be part of the single market and control immigration?

23 September 2016
What was claimed

The UK can stay in the single market and control immigration.

Our verdict

This depends on the deal struck between the UK and the EU. The UK is unlikely to be able to control the level of immigration from the rest of the EU while staying in the single market, and EU leaders are saying they won’t compromise on this issue.

“I don't want to see us giving up on membership of the single market.”

Liz Kendall MP

“If you don’t want to give up the single market you give up, therefore, on controlling immigration.”

David Dimbleby

“No, I don't believe that that is the case.”

Liz Kendall MP, 23 September 2016

We don't know what the future arrangements for the UK will be as this will depend on the deal that is reached between the government and the EU.

Controlling EU immigration into the UK is likely to require leaving the single market. Free movement currently applies to countries like Norway and Iceland, who aren’t EU members but are part of the single market, as well as to full members of the EU.

The head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has also reportedly said recently that he “cannot see any possibility of compromising” on the issue of free movement of people.

Liz Kendall actually suggested as much in a speech shortly after the referendum:

“The Government seems to want to strike a deal with the EU that allows us to control free movement of people and yet at the same time somehow retain access to the single market, including keeping passporting in the City.”

“I do not believe such a deal is possible.”

Explaining her view on last night’s programme, she said:

“Let's not give up on an ambitious negotiating strategy which allows us to stay in the single market and make some changes to freedom of movement, which is really why most people voted for Leave.”

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