Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the UK cannot remain locked inside the European Union’s (EU) Single Market after Brexit.
Many Labour voters supported Brexit, but the party membership is largely pro-EU and has been urging the leader to push to remain within the Single Market.
However, Mr. Corbyn insisted this was not an option and told party members he would not be attending a summit on the Single Market convened by the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, The Guardian reports.
The market is a free trade area, but also a protectionist bloc erecting trade barriers to the rest of the world. Members are not allowed to control their own trade policy or strike trade deals – a central ambition of Brexit supporters – and are forced to accept unlimited mass migration and open borders.
A senior Labour source told the paper: “The single market is not a membership club that can be joined so we seek through negotiation to retain the benefits of the Single Market.
“As he said in his letter back to Ian Blackford, the summit rests on the falsehood that the single market is a membership organisation which you can join, which it is not.
“Our approach for a jobs-first Brexit, which involves retaining the benefits of the single market, is through negotiation with the EU.”
Some pro-EU Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs voiced their disappointment.
— Tom Brake MP (@thomasbrake) January 9, 2018
A Labour MP added: “The key thing is about keeping all the options on the table when it comes to the single market and customs union. It is clear from recent polling that an overwhelming majority of Labour members, supporters and voters believe this.”
The prime minister has previously promised the UK will leave the Customs Union and Single Market to respect the referendum result, but last week revealed the UK could form an almost identical Customs Union with the EU after Brexit.
She has also promised “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the EU, which could keep the UK effectively tied to many rules of the bloc.
Also last week, a Tory think tank claiming the support of 120 Brexit-supporting MPs, said they could block a final divorce deal unless the prime minister promised to leave the Customs Union and Single Market.