Labour MPs pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to back single market membership after Brexit

Posted On: 
24th September 2017

Top Labour figures have urged Jeremy Corbyn to change policy and back continued UK membership of the single market and customs union beyond Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking ahead of the Labour conference in Brighton
PA Images

More than 30 MPs, alongside MEPs, peers, trade union leaders and mayors, have signed an open letter demanding he makes Labour's stance more pro-EU. 

In the note - published in the Observer - they say the party must offer an alternative to the Conservatives’ "destructive Brexit".

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They wrote that the party should show "the courage of its convictions", adding : "The supposed benefits of a clean break with the EU are a fantasy.

"The economic impact of leaving the single market would hit the most vulnerable in our society hardest.

"Labour should commit to staying in the single market and customs union - ruling out no options for how to achieve this."

Some of the more prominent Labour MPs to have signed the letter include former frontbenchers Chuka Umunna, Clive Lewis and Heidi Alexander.

Labour’s stance on the single market has come under scrutiny in recent months.

In July, Mr Corbyn said the single market was "inextricably linked" to being an EU member, but later said long-term membership was "open for discussion and negotiation" with Brussels.

Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer set out the position more clearly when he committed the party to single market membership during any post-Brexit transition period.

Reacting to the letter, Tory MP Luke Hall said: “Labour are totally divided over Brexit. Just a few months ago, the Labour leader and Shadow Chancellor stated that it was Labour policy to leave the single market - as to do otherwise would be to disrespect the referendum result.

“And yet now, large numbers of their MPs are telling them to do just that and defy the will of the people by remaining in the single market and customs union permanently.

“Only the Conservatives have a clear plan to deliver the best Brexit deal for everyone.”

It comes as Labour’s annual conference gets into full swing in Brighton today with a debate on the party’s Brexit policy set for Monday.