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Fresh Labour confusion as John McDonnell and Keir Starmer contradict Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Top figures in Labour have signalled that the party’s hardline stance on the European single market could be softened - in direct contradiction of Jeremy Corbyn.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said nothing should be ruled out when it comes to the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

Their comments come just days after Mr Corbyn said a Labour government would pull the UK out of the single market because it was was “dependent on EU membership”.

They also fly in the face of Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner, who said being in the customs union after Brexit would be "a disaster".

At an event in central London last night Sir Keir said: "Labour's objective is tariff free access to the single market, no new red tape at customs and a deal that works for services as well as goods.

“It is vital that we retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union. How we achieve that  is secondary to the outcome and should be part of the negotiations.

“We need to be flexible in our approach and not sweep options off the table."

Meanwhile Mr McDonnell told the BBC yesterday: “Our objective is tariff-free access to the market. That has been our objective since immediately after the referendum.

“The structures — whether we are in or out — are a secondary matter. We are not ruling anything out."

Earlier this week Labour campaign chief Andrew Gwynne said the party could change its position on Brexit "if public opinion shifts".

Writing for PoliticsHome yesterday, former Shadow Cabinet member Ian Murray also said Labour should be battling to stay in the single market and customs union.

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