The UK’s Labour party will unveil plans to support for a so-called softer Brexit by backing a rebel Tory plan to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, in a move that could scupper British prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.
In a speech in Coventry today Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will confirm the party’s support for a “tariff-free” Brexit, where Britain would remain in the customs union, but stop short of committing to full membership of the single market.
What will be said:
In excerpts released to the media in the run-up to the speech, Labour will call for a “bespoke relationship” with the single market, that “includes full tariff-free access”.
Corbyn is expected to say:
Every country that is geographically close to the EU without being an EU member state, whether it’s Turkey, Switzerland, or Norway, has some sort of close relationship to the EU, some more advantageous than others.
Britain will need a bespoke relationship of its own. Labour would negotiate a new and strong relationship with the single market that includes full tariff-free access and a floor under existing rights, standards and protections.
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Corbyn will add that the future relationship would need to guarantee that Labour can deliver on their “ambitious economic programme”.
“So we would also seek to negotiate protections, clarifications or exemptions, where necessary, in relation to privatisation and public service competition directives, state aid and procurement rules and the posted workers directive,” he will say.
He is also pledging to protect British jobs from the import of cheap labour.
We cannot be held back, inside or outside the EU, from taking the steps we need to support cutting-edge industries and local business, stop the tide of privatisation and outsourcing or prevent employers being able to import cheap agency labour from abroad to undercut existing pay and conditions.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer confirmed the position during an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, where he said that Corbyn’s speech will set out a party policy to leave the customs union, but would seek to negotiate a treaty that will guarantee similar rights and protections as the current relationship.
Is it like Turkey, which has a customs union but only in goods, not in agriculture, not in services, not in finance? Is that what we want for Britain? Will we take rules in certain sectors but not in others?
The customs arrangements at the moment are hardwired into the membership treaty, so I think everybody now recognises there is going to have to be a new treaty [between the UK and the EU].