UK Politics

General election 2017: Where UK's parties stand on Brexit

UK and EU flags Image copyright AFP/Getty

Brexit is a major issue at the UK general election - here's what we know so far about where the main parties across the UK stand.

The Conservatives

Party policy: Prime Minister Theresa May was against Brexit before the EU referendum but now says there can be no turning back and that "Brexit means Brexit". The reason she gave for calling a general election was to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU, in which she plans to withdraw the UK from the single market and strike a new free trade deal.

Where the MPs stand: More Tory MPs backed Remain than Leave in last year's referendum - but they now strongly support the UK leaving - in February, only one voted against the government beginning Brexit by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption All but one Tory MPs supported Theresa May in invoking Brexit

Risks and rewards: Theresa May would use an election victory to say the country is uniting around her approach to Brexit, and moving on from the divisions of the referendum campaign. But her uncompromising approach to leaving could upset some of the 48% who wanted to stay in, with the Lib Dems hoping to capitalise in areas - like London's Richmond Park - that backed Remain.

Labour Party

Party policy: The Labour Party campaigned against Brexit in the referendum but now says the result must be honoured, provided workers' rights, access to the benefits of the single market and four other tests are met. It has also ruled out a second referendum on the final deal, but wants MPs to have a decisive say on what happens once negotiations are complete. And it would guarantee the right of EU nationals living and working in the UK to stay in the country from "day one" of a Labour government.

Where the MPs stand: The vast majority of Labour MPs backed Remain ahead of the referendum - but most followed party orders to allow Article 50 to be invoked in February's vote.

Risks and rewards: Labour is hoping its acceptance of the result will fend off attacks from the Tories and UKIP in Leave-backing areas, which are estimated to account for the majority of its seats - including Stoke Central where it won February's by-election. But there are divisions among MPs on the best way forward, and Labour faces the challenge of having to appeal to both sides of a polarising debate.

The SNP

Party policy: SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been pushing for Scotland - which voted to remain in the EU - to have a special status after Brexit, including remaining in the single market. She has called for a second independence referendum before the Brexit package has been finalised.

Where the MPs stand: The SNP's 54 MPs voted en masse against triggering Article 50 and are expected to maintain their vocal opposition to Brexit in the next Parliament.

Risks and rewards: The SNP will hope to harness Scotland's support for remaining in the EU (it voted Remain by 62% to 38%). But a significant minority of its supporters are thought to have backed Leave - while the Tories are said to be targeting the Moray seat of SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, where Remain only narrowly saw off the Leave campaign in the EU referendum.

Liberal Democrats

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Image caption The Lib Dems hope a pro-EU stance will help them repeat their Richmond Park success

The Liberal Democrats are strongly pro-EU, and have promised to stop what they call a "disastrous hard Brexit". They say they will fight with "every fibre of their being" to protect existing aspects of EU membership, such as the single market and the free movement of people, and want another referendum - this time on the terms of the deal struck between the UK and the EU.

Where the MPs stand: All of the Lib Dem MPs backed staying in the EU, and seven out of nine opposed Article 50, with two abstaining.

Risks and rewards: The Lib Dems are hoping their pro-EU pitch will help them gather voters in pro-Remain areas, as when they captured Richmond Park in London in December's by-election. But according to estimates based on the referendum results, two of their sitting MPs represent areas that backed Leave last June - which might make the party's second referendum policy a tough sell on the doorstep.

The Green Party

Green Party of England and Wales joint leader Caroline Lucas has called for a second EU referendum on the Brexit deal reached with Brussels, and the Greens have promised "full opposition" to what they call "extreme Brexit".

UKIP

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Image caption UKIP says it will ensure the government does not "backslide" on Brexit

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has vowed to "hold the government's feet to the fire" on Brexit and will be hoping to take votes from Labour in areas that backed Leave. But with the formal exit process already under way, will the party's longstanding anti-EU message still have the same resonance?

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru, which campaigned to stay in the EU, says it accepts that the people of Wales voted to leave, but says single market membership should be preserved to protect Welsh jobs.

Democratic Unionist Party

The DUP campaigned in favour of leaving the EU - and, in its manifesto for this year's Assembly elections, said it wanted to see a "positive" relationship with the rest of Europe, involving "mutual access to our markets to pursue common interests".

SDLP

Having campaigned to stay in the EU, the SDLP's MPs have opposed the invoking of Article 50, saying it is being done "against the will of people in Northern Ireland", where most people voted to Remain in the EU.

Ulster Unionist

Before the referendum, the Ulster Unionist party said that on balance, it was better for Northern Ireland to stay in the EU - although not all its members agreed. It says it would honour the referendum result, and wants "unfettered" access to the single market and no hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein has accused the Conservative government of "seeking to impose Brexit on Ireland". It wants Northern Ireland to have a "designated special status" inside the EU.

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