Corbyn 'playing with fire' by backing the UK to stay in EU customs union AFTER Brexit

Posted on Feb 26 2018 - 2:28am by admin

Mr Corbyn is believed to be preparing to announce tomorrow that he is in favour of remaining in a customs union with the EU in a move designed to pile pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May.

His stance would go further than Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, which simply pledged to focus on “retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union”.

But Eurosceptic MPs Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer, all of whom campaigned to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum campaign, condemned the move.

Mr Field, MP for Birkenhead, said: “This is not what people voted for and it is playing with fire. We will lose northern seats if this happens.

“Voters know when they are being messed around.

“There was a referendum and referendums are senior to elections. We surrendered power to them to instruct us and they have instructed us.

“I think he ought to spell out how he is supporting the referendum result.”

Vauxhall MP Miss Hoey, a former Labour minister, said: “I hope Jeremy will remember that in the last election our manifesto commitments on the EU helped ensure that many ex-Labour voters who had gone to Ukip came back to us on the understanding that he was committed to leaving the EU and not leaving in name only, which is what any form of customs union with the EU would mean.”

Mr Field, Miss Hoey and Mr Stringer, the MP for Blackley and Broughton, previously voted with the Tories, and against Labour’s instructions to abstain, when an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill in January was defeated by 322 votes to 99.

The amendment had sought “confirmation of continued membership of the single market and customs union before ministers can implement any withdrawal agreement”.

In a sign of the divisions which run through the Labour party on the issue, more than 80 MPs have now urged Corbyn to go even further by backing single market membership as well.

Meanwhile Mrs May is facing a rebellion in her own Conservative party, with five-pro Remain Tories signing an amendment to the Trade Bill.

This proposes the Government should be forced to “take all necessary steps” to secure a trade agreement that “enables the UK to participate after exit day in a customs union with the EU”. 

If Mr Corbyn opts to back the amendment, it could result in a defeat for Government.

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