Jeremy Corbyn wants Britain to abandon membership of the EU single market, Labour sources indicated today.
A senior aide to the Labour leader said Mr Corbyn backs tariff-free trade with Europe but stopped short of endorsing full membership.
Mr Corbyn remains heavily critical of a raft of EU rules which are a requirement of single market membership, the aide said.
They include Brussels’s state aid laws – which stop countries favouring their own industries when handing out contracts – and its drive to privatise services in developing countries.
His comments came after Mr Corbyn used a speech in the House of Commons to attack the EU’s ‘free market dogma’.
He told MPs: The free trade dogma has often been pursued at the expense of the world’s most fragile economies.
I urge the Prime Minister to stand with me against the use of Britain’s aid and trade policies to further the agenda of deregulation and privatisation in developing countries.
Speaking afterwards the senior aide repeatedly refused to say that Britain should remain a full member of the single market after we leave the EU.
The aide said Mr Corbyn wants to maintain ‘full access’ to the single market’s tariff-free trade – which is different to full membership.
And the aide was heavily critical of many of the rules surrounding it.
In particular the source criticised the EU for forcing developing countries to open up markets within their public services in return for trade deals with Europe.
(Jeremy) is in favour of negotiating full access to the single market in goods and services, the source said.
But he has made clear there are important aspects of the existing architecture around the EU that are damaging to working people, damaging to public services.
If we voted to Remain he was pressing the case for reform of those things – so obviously we are not in favour of negotiating a package that contains those continuing requirements on Britain.
The position prompted shock from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who replied: “What? Labour surely not advocating withdrawal from single market?”
@NicolaSturgeon @JasonGroves1 Just sent you a very clear statement of support and clarity on this issue pic.twitter.com/7jRFEoj2Xw
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale then intervened, insisting Sotland should stay “open for business” and her party was “autonomous” to Mr Corbyn.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna called on his own party to “clarify its position” on the single market which “enshrines vital rights for workers”.
And leadership challenger Owen Smith 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.
“Jeremy seems happy to accept Brexit at any cost – even if that means putting British jobs and investment at risk.”
Brussels chiefs have made clear that full membership of the single market is dependant on signing up to all EU rules, including key issues such as state aid.
Asked directly if Mr Corbyn therefore wants to abandon membership, the source replied: We want access to the single market, we want access in goods and services – but we don’t want the continuation of those kinds of requirements as part of a package.
Labour’s stance effectively puts it in the same position as Theresa May, who said last week she wants the best possible deal on trade but has vowed to end the free movement of people from Europe – another key requirement of single market membership.
During today’s session in the House of Commons Mrs May refused four times to say if she wants to keep Britain in the single market, insisting she will not give a ‘running commentary’ on Brexit talks.
But Mr Corbyn’s position will infuriate many pro-EU Labour MPs, who want Britain to keep as close a relationship with Europe as possible after Brexit .
His former Shadow Europe Minister Pat McFadden, who is part of the pro-EU ‘Open Britain’ campaign, said: The question of the single market matters to jobs, trade, investment and prosperity.
Any new (trade) deals will be more comprehensive if the UK has maximum access to European markets, which means membership of the single market.
News Source MirrorNews