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U-Turn: Labour Pushes for UK to Remain in Single Market During Transition Period

Labour has pledged its support for the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union’s Single Market during the transition period, backsliding on the party’s manifesto promise to leave the internal market by 2019.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer stated the party’s support for Free Movement and paying into EU budgets for up to four years after the UK leaves the EU in 2019 on Sunday.

“Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU.

“That means we would seek to remain in a Customs Union with the EU and within the Single Market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both,” Starmer said, according to The Observer. 

This would mean rowing back on the party’s manifesto pledge ahead of the June general election, where the Labour Party promised that “freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union”.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the man who delivered the Brexit vote, exclaimed Saturday night on Twitter: “Corbyn promised he would leave the single market. He has now betrayed every Labour voter at the General Election. Liar!”

Remaining in the Customs Union and Single Market would mean the nation would continue to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on trade issues, pay money to Brussels, and abide by the bloc’s ‘Four Freedoms’ – significantly, the associated uncontrolled, unvetted Free Movement of people until 2023.

Starmer added: “Remaining in a form of Customs Union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but that must be subject to negotiations.

“It also means that Labour is flexible as to whether the benefits of the Single Market are best retained by negotiating a new single market relationship or by working up from a bespoke trade deal.”

Eurosceptics are concerned that this could mean a push from the party for the UK to remain in the Single Market beyond the transitional period.

Only last month, the Labour Party voiced its commitment to a a full, clean Brexit including breaking away from the Customs Union and Single Market, with Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner claiming anything less than a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ would be “considered a con” by the voting public.

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