Norway-style Brexit declared 'dead' as Jeremy Corbyn rules out supporting it

Posted On: 
14th May 2018

A Norway-style soft Brexit has been declared "dead" after Jeremy Corbyn all-but confirmed Labour will not support it.

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning for Remain during the EU referendum.
Credit: 
PA Images

A spokesman for the Labour leader said membership of the European Economic Area does not "meet the priorities that we have set out".

MPs will be given a vote on Britain joining the EEA after peers - including 83 Labour rebels - voted in favour of it in a defeat for the Government last week.

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At a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party, MPs on both sides of the debate lobbied Mr Corbyn.

Speaking afterwards, Leave supporter John Mann said: "EEA is dead after that. MPs in Leave areas have gone back to their constituencies and spoken to their voters, who have told them they don't want it.

"Even MPs who have not spoken out before and who have not voted in any way that you would define as Brexit before spoke out, and that strengthens Jeremy's hand."

Pro-EU MP Chris Leslie insisted that the possibility of Labour supporting EEA membership remained on the table - but that was contradicted by Mr Corbyn's spokesman.

He said: "The EEA packages currently in existence don't meet the priorities that we have set out and the Norway option is not appropriate and will not work for the kind of Brexit that we want to see."

One MP who attended the meeting told PoliticsHome: "It was pointed out to Jeremy that not being in the EEA would mean years more austerity because we'd be voting to make the country poorer. But he is basically in the same position as the Tories on the EEA." 

ANTI-SEMITISM

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has also conceded for the first time that Labour failed to win Barnet Council in the recent local elections because of the anti-Semitism row which has hit the party.

But he rejected calls by Wes Streeting MP for him to visit the area to set out what he is doing to tackle the issue.

Mr Corbyn's spokesman said: "We do think that anti-Semitism played a role in the Barnet election results and Jeremy made clear that not only is he determined to eradicate anti-Semitism from the Labour party but he got (new general secretary) Jennie Formby a task to make this her number one priority."

Asked if the leader would visit Barnet, the spokesman said: "I'm sure he will go to Barnet again but at the moment there's no plans for that."