David Miliband says Jeremy Corbyn risks being the ‘midwife of hard Brexit’

Posted On: 
14th May 2018

David Miliband has warned Jeremy Corbyn he risks being the “midwife” of a Brexit which threatens people’s living standards by failing to back continued membership of the single market.

David Miliband has joined forces with Tory and Lib Dem figures to push for a soft Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader ruled out continued membership of the trading arrangment in the wake of the Brexit vote, claiming it would leave the UK “a passive recipient of rules decided elsewhere by others".

However more than 80 Labour peers last week defied the party whip by backing an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would keep Britain in the European Economic Area.

Neil Kinnock accuses Jeremy Corbyn of ‘serious evasion of duty’ over single market

Labour sister party in Northern Ireland urges its MPs to back single market membership

Labour in fresh Brexit scrap over 'incredible' single market position

Mr Miliband - who ran for the Labour leadership in 2010 against his brother Ed - said today that Mr Corbyn should recognise the “very significant” vote and back the so-called “Norway option”, or risk harming those he claims to represent.

“The Labour position was not to support that and the warning for Jeremy Corbyn is that if he’s not very careful he will be the midwife of a hard Brexit that threatens the living standards of the very people he says he wants to stand up to represent,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“The single market isn’t just about the trade in goods and services, it’s also about environmental regulation, it’s also about employee rights, it’s about a fundamental social and economic bargain and so you’re right to say that this is an issue for MPs and leaders of all parties because the stakes could not be higher.”

The former Labour foreign secretary, who is now based in New York, is due to share a platform with former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Tory ex-cabinet minister Nicky Morgan today, where they will urge the Government to take a softer approach to quitting the EU.

It comes a day after they penned a joint article in the Mail on Sunday, warning the Prime Minister she was being “held to ransom” by hardline Brexiteers.

Mr Miliband added that there would be an “enormous sigh of relief” in Europe were Mrs May to indicate a willingness for Britain to remain in the single market.

“The European position [is to] have sadly accepted that Britain is leaving the European union however they don’t want a weak Britain, because they think that will weaken Europe,” he added.

“They know that there’s trade both ways and at the moment they’re sitting there strumming their fingers on the table waiting for the Government to come with a negotiating position with the most fundamental issues.”