Labour would strike EU deal to give UK 'unimpeded access to the single market after Brexit', says Jeremy Corbyn

Party leader slams 'shambolic' Tory approach to leaving the union

Benjamin Kentish
Brighton
Wednesday 27 September 2017 19:08 BST
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Jeremy Corbyn said the UK's Brexit negotiating team are 'hopelessly inept'
Jeremy Corbyn said the UK's Brexit negotiating team are 'hopelessly inept' (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Jeremy Corbyn has said a Labour government would strike a deal with the EU that "guarantees unimpeded access to the single market" after Brexit.

The Labour leader used his keynote speech at the party’s conference in Brighton to attack the Conservatives’ “shambolic” approach to Brexit and slam the UK’s negotiating team as “hopelessly inept”.

He said Labour would deliver a Brexit “that puts jobs first” and vowed to strike a new deal with the EU, saying there was a “real divide” between the Labour and Conservative approaches.

He said: “A shambolic Tory Brexit driving down standards, or ours, which puts jobs first and works for the many, one that guarantees unimpeded access to the single market and establishes a new, co-operative relationship with Europe.”

Earlier this week, Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said Labour would seek to keep the UK in a form of customs union with the EU and negotiate a new single market relationship after withdrawal.

However, EU officials have repeatedly made clear that retaining access to the single market means accepting the rules and regulations of the European Union, including freedom of movement and open competition.

Despite this, Mr Corbyn said he would use “powers returned from Brussels” to invest in the UK’s regions and stop bosses cutting workers’ pay and conditions.

He said: “We accept and respect the referendum result, but respect for a democratic decision does not mean giving a green light to a reckless Tory Brexit agenda that would plunge Britain into a Trump-style race to the bottom in rights and corporate taxes.

“We are not going to be passive spectators to a hopelessly inept negotiating team putting at risk people’s jobs, rights and living standards.”

Labour believes the UK should leave the single market after Brexit but retain full access to it – a stance that has raised eyebrows in Brussels. EU leaders say the four freedoms governing the single market – of goods, capital, labour and services – are indivisible and that Britain cannot pick and choose which ones to keep.

Mr Corbyn has previously said he would not accept a deal that maintained freedom of movement after Brexit, saying Labour would negotiate an arrangement with the EU that "guarantees unimpeded access to the single market".

The party leader said Labour would secure a new cooperative relationship with Europe.

Mr Corbyn also told the party's conference in Brighton that he would use new powers after Brexit to bring in a new industrial strategy to boost the regions, as well as stopping workers' pay and conditions being hit.

Earlier this week, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, told the conference that Labour could keep the UK in a form of customs union with the EU and negotiate a new single market relationship after withdrawal.

In his flagship speech, Mr Corbyn said there was a "real divide" between the withdrawals from the EU envisioned by Labour and the Tories.

He added: "A shambolic Tory Brexit driving down standards, or ours, which puts jobs first and works for the many, one that guarantees unimpeded access to the single market and establishes a new, co-operative relationship with Europe."

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