WATCH: Labour shadow minister fails FIVE times to set out party's customs union policy

Posted On: 
15th August 2017

Labour’s position on Brexit has been thrown into further confusion after a senior frontbencher repeatedly refused to clarify his party’s position.

Shadow International Trade Minister Bill Esterson endured a torrid time while being interviewed by 5Live's Emma Barnett.
Credit: 
BBC

Shadow international trade minister Bill Esterson was asked five times on BBC Radio 5Live whether his party wanted Britain to stay in the customs union after Brexit, but failed to answer.

He had earlier endured a torrid time on Radio Four's Today programme, when he failed 11 times to set out Labour's position on the customs union.

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Asked by 5Live presenter Emma Barnett whether a Labour government would try to keep Britain in the customs union and single market, Mr Esterson said: "During the transitional period it's clear were going to have the same relationship with the customs union so by definition we are going to be part of the customs union and the single market."

When he was pressed again on what that meant, he replied: "Our intention is to have the same relationship with the customs union and the single market so that businesses and jobs in Britain are protected. The most important relationship we can have."

A clearly exasperated Ms Barnett said: " I'm sorry I'm think I'm having a brain fade here."

Watch the full interview, which lasted more than four minutes, here:

On the Today programme, presenter Justin Webb pointed out to Mr Esterson that Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner had said staying in the customs union after Brexit would be "a disaster", while Jeremy Corbyn has insisted all options should remain on the table.

But Mr Esterson responded: “No, Labour's position has been clear all along, we are committed to getting the best possible deal for the economy and for jobs."

He also blamed "lurid headlines in tabloids" for exaggerating Labour's Brexit splits.

Tory MP Maria Caulfield MP said: "This is one of the biggest issues that our country faces and Labour just don't have a clue.

"The man that could be running our trade negotiations if Labour were in charge can't give people a straight answer - Labour simply aren't up to the job of getting the best deal for the UK.

"Only the Conservatives have a plan to ensure a smooth and predictable pathway for businesses and citizens alike."