Jeremy Corbyn will not tell Labour MPs to back Norway-style soft Brexit

Posted On: 
9th May 2018

Labour MPs will not be ordered by Jeremy Corbyn to support calls for the Government to strike a Norway-style deal with the EU after Brexit.

Peers voted for the UK to negotiate a Norway-style soft Brexit deal with Brussels.
PA Images

The Labour leader was hit by a huge rebellion when 83 of the party's peers voted for Britain to join the European Economic Area -  a move which would effectively keep the country in the single market.

That was despite the fact that they had been told to abstain on the amendment to the Government's flaship EU Withdrawal Bill, which was tabled by Labour peer Lord Alli.

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Several pro-EU Labour MPs welcomed the rebellion, with Chuka Umunna saying: "Our members and voters will be delighted with this clear signal we will oppose this Tory Brexit."

The bill is set to return to the House of Commons later this month, when MPs will get the chance to overturn the amendment.

But a spokesman for Mr Corbyn gave a clear hint that Labour MPs will be whipped to abstain on the crucial vote because the party's leadership do not back EEA membership.

He said: "As we made clear by our whipping for abstention, we’ve made quite clear that we favour a new relationship with the single market. We favour negotiating a new customs union with the EU with a British say in future trade deals, and that’s why we took that position.

"We’ve set up and we’re united behind that position at the leadership level and the Shadow Cabinet level."

The spokesman added: "We’re trying to make the case for a Brexit that puts the economy and jobs and living standards first and to unite as much of the country on both sides of the Leave/Remain divide together in negotiating a jobs-first Brexit.

"The EEA membership includes a number of different types of relationship, but it’s not what we are proposing.

"We will be pressing the case in the Commons for a new relationship with the EU which is a new relationship with the single market that retains the benefits of the single market and the customs union and will try to unite people around that position.

"Whipping arrangements are decided nearer the time but from what I’ve said you can see what our priorities are. We’ve indicated in what we’ve already done what position we will take on that."

Earlier, Mr Corbyn had accused the Cabinet of being in a "shambles" over Brexit.