Barry Gardiner: Key part of Labour Brexit policy is 'b******s'
Barry Gardiner has said a key plank of Labour's Brexit policy is "b******s".
In an outspoken attack, the Shadow International Trade Secretary said there was no way the UK could enjoy "the exact same benefits" as it does as a member of the customs union and single market after it leaves the EU.
The demand is one of six "tests" laid out by Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer a year ago.
He said that unless they were met, Labour would not support the Government's EU Withdrawal Bill.
Mr Gardiner was recorded during a question-and-answer session at a thinktank in Brussels last month, and a copy of the audio was passed to the BBC.
In it, the key ally of Jeremy Corbyn said: "Well let's just take one test - the exact same benefits. B******s. Always has been b******s and it remains it.
"We know very well that we cannot have the exact same benefits and actually it would have made sense - because it was the Tories that said they were going to secure the exact same benefits - and our position should have been to say they have said they are going to secure the exact same benefits and we are going to hold them to that standard."
Mr Gardiner said that should have been the Labour policy rather than saying "we think we can secure the exact same benefits as well".
The row comes just hours after the Brent North MP was forced to apologise for describing the Good Friday Agreement as a "shibboleth" and suggesting the Irish government was "playing up" its significance during the Brexit negotiations for economic purposes.
He made the remarks at the same thinktank event in Brussels.
Asked about the row, Jeremy Corbyn said: "Barry Gardiner does not denounce our Brexit policies.
"We have had a conversation with him. It's quite clear he does support our strategy of holding the Government to account on the tests that have been put forward."
A Labour party spokesperson, said: "Labour has set six tests for the final Brexit deal. Those include holding the Government to its own commitment to deliver the same benefits as the single market and customs union.
"We have been clear that, if those tests are not met, Labour will not back it in Parliament. Barry Gardiner fully supports that position."