Jeremy Corbyn has called for “new and strong relationship with the single market” and outline a “jobs first” approach to Brexit during a speech in Coventry this morning.
He accused the Tories of leaving the country “in the dark” and failing to “agree among themselves”.
The Labour leader said his party “respected the result of the referendum” and said his priority is to “get the best deal for people’s jobs and the economy”.
He said: “We have long argued that a customs union is a viable option for the final deal so Labour would seek to negotiate a new, comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need whatsoever for a hard border in Northern Ireland.”
Jeremy Corbyn arriving in Coventry ahead of his Brexit speech this morning
He said Labour would immediately introduce legislation guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.
And he said the UK must remain in a customs union after Brexit – and said he would seek a final day which “retains the benefits of the single market and customs union”.
Mr Corbyn said: “We’re leaving the European union but we’re still working with European partners for our economy.
“It is in both our interest for trade to remain tariff-free. We will remain close to the EU.
“Britain will need a bespoke negotiated relationship of its own.
“During transition period Labour will seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market. We would abide by existing rules of both during transition.”
Prime Minister Theresa May slapped down Mr Corbyn’s comments before he had even left the lectern this morning
A spokesman for the PM said the UK will categorically not be joining a customs union after Brexit.
He said: “The Government will not be joining a customs union. We want to have the freedom to sign our own trade deals and to reach out into the world.”
Jeremy Corbyn speaking on Brexit in Coventry this morning
The shift in Labour’s position raises the prospect of the opposition siding with Tory rebels to inflict a defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May over a key plank of her Brexit strategy.
Asked if such a defeat would bring down the Government, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier today: “I don’t know what it would lead to. I don’t think anybody does.”
But he added that if Brexit was about restoring sovereignty, it was right for Parliament to determine the policy.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Corbyn’s plans breached the promises he made at the general election and accused him of selling “snake oil”.
A full copy of Mr Corbyn’s speech provided by Labour said: “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.
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“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.
“That new relationship would need to ensure we can deliver our ambitious economic programme, take the essential steps to upgrade and transform our economy, and build an economy for the 21st century that works for the many, not the few.
“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.”
“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.”