Where the parties stand on Brexit

by Rachel Franklin | 18.05.2017

Brexit is this election’s defining issue. Theresa May is intent on securing a mandate for a hard Brexit, the effects of which will shape the country for generations to come. There are tough choices ahead and tactical voting could play a crucial role in blocking a Tory landslide, which would give May a blank cheque on Brexit.

How should you vote?

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have laid out their manifestos. Here’s our cut-out-and-keep guide to the main national parties’ plans for trade, quitting with no deal, citizens’ rights, a future referendum, parliamentary votes and more. We’ve left out UKIP, which it’s hard to imagine many pro-Europeans backing.


Conservative: Conservative party manifesto, Brexit white paper

Labour: Labour party manifesto, Keir Starmer’s speech on Labour’s approach to Brexit

Lib Dem: Lib Dem manifesto, Nick Clegg’s speech on Lib Dems’ position on Brexit

Green: Speeches by Caroline Lucas and Molly Scott Cato on the Green party’s Brexit pledge

**This article was originally published on 12 May but was modified on 18 May to reflect the contents of the parties’ manifestos.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

8 Responses to “Where the parties stand on Brexit”

  • Please add in the SNP to this helpful chart. 3rd largest party at Westminster. Many Strong europhiles in Scotland have nowhere else to go. They are not anti-Enlish, they will help bring England back to EU when wheel turns. Stop ignoring them and half of Scottish voters please.

  • To echo vanessa’s point i think you should add plaid cymru to this chart too. They are strongly opposed to a hard brexit and want to remain in the single market and the customs union.

  • There is more to the so-called United Kingdom than England.

    If the Tories don’t get an absolute majority the non- English parties will have a key role in opposing Brexit if Labour does the sane and sensible thing and enters into confidence and supply agreements with the SNP and others.

    Without information on the stance of the political parties outside England this article fails to provide a complete picture. We know from the referendum that with FPTP tiny percentages of votes cast can swing the result.

    The strongest possible pro- EU result in Scotland would be another SNP landslide, which would be key to supporting a minority Labour government. Plaid Cymru could provide enough MPs to swing it against the Tories, too.

    Would Sinn Fein depart from their traditional position of refusing the oath in order to take up seats in Westminster if the alternative was a Tory Brexit government?

    This table is of no use to voters outside England. And a few seats going one way or the other could mean the difference between a Tory majority or not.

  • For those of us who want to prevent a Hard Brexit, a key challenge is forcing pro-Brexit politicians, and obviously these will be mainly the Conservative candidates, to answer how they would deal with specific problems which will be caused by Brexit. Problems, which would be recognised as such by many “normal” voters, for example;
    1. Which are the markets that will fill the void for almost half our exports which currently go to the EU?
    2. How long do you estimate for it to take for these new export markets to be in place?
    3. How will foreign investment be attracted to the UK after a Hard Brexit?
    4. What measures will be taken to dissuade EU staff in key sectors from leaving and hence causing staff shortages?
    5. Will British tourists have to pay for visas, and give advanced notice of travel to Europe?
    6. Will British tourists be able to rely on continued access to the EHIC health card to protect themelves against illness or accidents?
    7. Which measures will be taken to prevent excessive queuing and delays at ports because of additional redtape?
    8. Will spouses and partners residence rights be protected where these are between mixed UK/EU nationals?

    Of course candidates will try to evade answering such specific questions as these, hiding behind such platitudes as “we shall have to wait and see” or general waffle. However, it is important that opportunities are taken to nail candidates down where possible, to be persistant and to embarrass them if necessary. The May team’s whole strategy has been to minimise discussion and debate on detail and to hide behind the vague stock phrases and platitudes, partly of couse, because in many cases they haven’t a clue themselves what the answers are. They need to be fully exposed in this campaign.

  • Great point, Vanessa, Leigh, Paul about the Parties outside England, i would like to know what Plaid Cymru think. In Wales we stand to lose an awful lot of Regional Aid. For example much of the A465 Heads of the Valley Road has just been dualled. This project was first proposed after WW1 when many coal lorries had run away on the steep hills. Westminster turned the proposal down in 1922, and has regularly turned it down ever since (In 1973 I worked with someone who had had a terrifying experience while driving a lorry on that road.) The EU saw the point, and did the job that Wales had waited nearly 100 years for, while many people died unnecessarily. So come on, tell us what Plaid think about Brexit!
    Alex, we do need these questions answered by all candidates.

  • The irony here is that you leave the SNP out because you believe in the UK, but in leaving them out you simply alienate Scotland even more and this in turn will speed up the demise of the UK.

  • I don’t think you are describing the Labour position accurately or fairly. It says in the manifesto that Labour “will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain.”

    This clearly means they will seek to remain part of the single market and customs union, as a priority. One cannot ‘retain the benefits’ without being a part of these things. When you say ‘probably not’, that is a value judgement which presupposes you know the outcome of negotiations. This has no place in a factual statement of the parties’ positions. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions about whether the parties’ positions are consistent or realistic. That is not for you to say here.

    Finally when you say it’s ‘not clear what would happen if parliament rejected the deal’, it is clear to me, from Labour’s manifesto, that they would seek to extend negotiations until they get a deal which parliament can accept.

  • The SNP plan for the UK future is not mentioned, AGAIN! It was published and presented for cinsideration prior to Parliament being disbanded. The SNP is also mussing from major party opinion despite having more members and MP’s than Lib -Dems!!!!