Jeremy Corbyn has opened a public split with his shadow chancellor John McDonnell by suggesting he wants Britain to leave the single market after Brexit.
In comments that were met with fury by many moderate Labour MPs, Mr Corbyn said he will only seek “access” to the single market.
His approach is in direct conflict with that of Mr McDonnell, who warned that pulling out of the single market could cause “substantial” damage.
It came as Theresa May yesterday refused to say whether Britain will seek to retain it’s single market membership after Brexit, insisting that she doesn’t not want to “give away” Britain’s negotiating hand.
On Monday David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said it was “improbable” that Britain would remain in the single market after Brexit.
But Mrs May told the Commons: “We will not reveal our hand prematurely and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation.
And I say that because that is not the best way to conduct a strong and mature negotiation that will deliver the best deal for the people of this country.
Mr Corbyn, who was criticised by Labour MPs for failing to do more in the EU referendum campaign , said that he “accepts and respects” the Brexit vote.
However he said that he is concerned by state aid rules which prevent the Government from intervening to save companies and requirements which mean Governments have to “liberalise and privatise public services”.
He said: “We will be pressing for full access to the European Single Market for goods and services as part of the negotiations.
“But there are directives and obligations linked to the single market which we would not want to see as part of a post-Brexit relationship.”
In July Mr McDonnell said: “Whatever emerges from negotiations, when the final proposals for Brexit are decided, we do not want to lose the benefits that membership of the European Union has brought.
“The damage that would be done to our economy by pulling out of the single market at this time could be substantial.” Chris Bryant, the former shadow leader of the Commons, said that Labour is in danger of becoming “some wild woolly sandal-wearing protest movement”.
Pat McFadden, a Labour MP, said: “The question of the Single Market matters to jobs, trade, investment and prosperity.
“We cannot gamble our economic future on a Liam Fox world tour exploring trade deals when countries have already said that settling our relationship with the EU is the priority.
“Any new deals will be more comprehensive if the UK has maximum access to European markets, which means membership of the Single Market.”
Owen Smith, Mr Corbyn’s rival for the labour leadership, said: “Tens of thousands of Labour members and trade unionists will be worried to hear that Jeremy Corbyn appears to agree with David Davis that our membership of the single market is not worth fighting for.
“I have been consistent in saying that trade with Europe is in our national economic interest. It brings jobs, growth and investment.
“Jeremy seems happy to accept Brexit at any cost – even if that means putting British jobs and investment at risk.
“Perhaps this explains why he failed to ask a single question of Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions about Brexit, and why he failed to campaign hard enough during the referendum.”
News Source TelegraphNews