British PM tells embattled opposition leader to step aside amid leadership challenge
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels for talks on Scottish EU membership
Outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron faced Parliament Wednesday for the first time since Britain’s vote to leave the EU, delivering a stark message from Brussels on the challenges ahead for the UK.
Addressing MPs, Cameron said he had no doubt that “difficult economic times” lay ahead for the country, and that securing access to the single European market was the most important issue for a post-referendum UK.
Speaking the day after he dined with European leaders for a “last supper” in Brussels – and as those leaders met again Wednesday without him to discuss the post-Brexit future – Cameron had a clear message from EU heads: that access to the European single market will not be granted without some tradeoff regarding the free movement of people across borders.
“This issue of immigration versus the single market… this is frankly the biggest and most difficult issue to deal with,” said Cameron.
Following two days of meetings on the Brexit, the leaders of the 27 other EU countries released a statement underlining that the UK had to accept the free movement of people to retain access to the single market.
“Leaders made it crystal clear today that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms, including the freedom of movement,” said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
“There will be no single market a la carte.”
At a news conference following the meeting, Tusk said he accepted the need to strengthen controls on Europe’s external borders in response to the migrant crisis, following a referendum campaign in which immigration was a core issue.
“It was also a very clear message from David Cameron’s side, but also today during our discussion among (EU) leaders… that irregular migration was – and is – one of the most important reasons of this crisis of self-confidence in Europe.”
PM to Corbyn: ‘Go’
The parliamentary session in London also saw fiery clashes between Cameron and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is refusing to resign in the face of a revolt from members of his own party, as the repercussions from the Leave vote continue to unfold.
Corbyn overwhelmingly lost a no-confidence vote by Labour MPs Tuesday amid criticisms he was lackluster in his campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
Facing questions from Corbyn, Cameron responded that he should step down “in the national interest.”
“It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there. It’s not in the national interest, and I would say, for heaven’s sake man, go.”
Tuesday’s no-confidence vote against Corbyn was non-binding, but it paves the way for an official leadership challenge.
In response to a question from Corbyn about increased xenophobic attacks in Britain following the Leave vote, Cameron said the government would soon be publishing a new action plan on hate crime, and called on MPs to condemn the attacks.
“That’s not what we do in Britain,” he said.
Scottish leader in Brussels
While Cameron has returned from the corridors of European power, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels Wednesday to court European leaders over ways Scotland could potentially remain in the EU.