When Britain LOVED the Single Market

Jon Danzig |

Back in 1988, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was ultra-keen to get British businesses fully prepared for Europe’s new Single Market, due to be launched four years later in 1992.

Prime Minister Thatcher enthusiastically launched her government’s ‘Europe Open for Business’ campaign in a keynote speech on 18 April 1988.

Mrs Thatcher, who championed the concept of the Single Market and was one of its architects, saw it as the key to Britain’s future success. She said:

“How we meet the challenge of the Single Market will be a major factor, possibly the major factor, in our competitive position in European and world markets into the twenty-first century.”

Mrs Thatcher continued:

“It’s your job, the job of business, to gear yourselves up to take the opportunities which a single market of nearly 320 million people will offer.

“Just think for a moment what a prospect that is.

“A single market without barriers – visible or invisible – giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous people.

“Bigger than Japan. Bigger than the United States. On your doorstep. And with the Channel Tunnel to give you direct access to it.”

Lord David Young, then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, was tasked with leading the ‘Europe Open for Business’ campaign, which dramatically increased the public’s appreciation of the EU and its new Single Market.

Business leaders such as Lord Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, and Sir John Egan appeared in a series of high-profile TV commercials, promoting the opportunities that the new Single Market offered. (Watch and share the video.)

At the time, the UK government commissioned me to be Creative Director for a series of breakfast shows across the UK, explaining to British businesses what the Single Market was all about.

If only today’s Tory government was as enthusiastic as Thatcher’s to embrace and promote the benefits of the EU’s Single Market.

Back then, the Conservative government lauded that Europe was fully open for business, offering huge opportunities for Britain.

  • But now, the Tories have closed Britain’s doors to Europe.
  • As has Keir Starmer, who says that there will be no return to the Single Market if the Labour Party wins power.

Yet there are no benefits to putting up barriers to business with the rest of Europe. Only severe disadvantages. What’s wrong with today’s political leaders?

Recent polling by YouGov indicates that 70% of Britons support a closer relationship with the EU, including joining the Single Market, even if it meant allowing free movement of people. 











  • Watch this 3-minute video about the time Britain was ‘open for business’ with Europe.

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