Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party could push to keep the UK locked in the European Union’s (EU) Single Market after Brexit, which would almost certainly include continued open borders.
The statement came on the same day Mr. Corbyn imposed a three-line whip on his MPs, instructing them to vote down the EU Withdrawal Bill, which could have effectively blocked or delayed the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc.
However, the Withdrawal bill – which will make British law supreme and bring 40 years of EU legislation onto UK statute books – passed through Parliament late Monday night.
Speaking hours before the vote, Mr. Corbyn told BBC Radio4’s World at One programme that staying in the EU Single Market is “open for discussion”.
He continued: “There has to be a trade relationship with Europe, whether that’s formally in the Single Market or whether that’s an agreement to trade within the Single Market. That’s open to discussion or negotiation.”
Adding: “We want a relationship which allows us to trade within the Single Market.
“Whether that is formal membership, which is only possible, I believe, if you are actually a member of the EU, or whether it is an agreed trading relationship, is open for discussion.”
Jeremy Corbyn says remaining in the single market post Brexit is “open for discussion”.
Posted by The Today Programme on Monday, 11 September 2017
Mr. Corbyn, a long-standing Eurosceptic, has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue of the Single Market, seeking to balance the Europhile tendencies of his metropolitan membership and parliamentary party and the wishes of Brexit-supporting Labour voters.
Just one month ago, he said that EU and Single Market membership were “inextricably linked” – implying that keeping the UK in the market would be a betrayal of the referendum result.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The single market is dependent on membership of the EU. What we have said all along is that we want a tariff-free trade access to the European market and a partnership with Europe in the future.”
Following his comments on Radio4 Monday afternoon, a Labour spokesman sought to clarify their position.
They told the Daily Mail that Labour’s “position hasn’t changed”, adding: “We won’t be ‘members’ of the Single Market after the transition. We want to achieve full tariff free access to the Single Market.”