Labour backs EU customs union

Labour announces the party are committed to keeping the UK inside a customs union after Brexit, in a speech by the Leader of the Opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn today used a speech at Coventry University to announce: ‘Our priority is to get the best deal for people’s jobs, living standards and the economy. We reject any race to the bottom in workers’ rights, environmental safeguards, consumer protections or food safety standards.’

The Labour Leader also committed to ensuring any customs arrangement would avoid a hard border in Ireland and protect the Good Friday Agreement. ‘No one should be willing to sacrifice the Good Friday Agreement, the basis for 20 years of relative peace, development and respect for diversity in Northern Ireland’ he said.

Labour will seek a deal that gives full access to European markets and maintains the benefits of the single market and the customs union (holding the government to what the Brexit Secretary, David Davis promised in the House of Commons), with no new impediments to trade and no reduction in rights, standards and protections.

Labour also want the UK to remain a part of agencies like Euratom and Erasmus. Speaking in Coventry, Mr Corbyn said: ‘It makes no sense for the UK to abandon EU agencies and tariff-free trading rules that have served us well, supporting our industrial sectors, protecting workers and consumers and safeguarding the environment. If that means negotiating to support individual EU agencies, rather than paying more to duplicate those agencies here then that should be an option, not something ruled out because of phoney jingoistic posturing.’

Commenting on Mr Corbyn’s speech, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Jeremy’s speech today is a step in the right direction. Our party’s commitment to the UK remaining in a customs union is central to securing a jobs-first Brexit.

Trade with our European neighbours is integral to our economic health. Access to the single market is vital to so many businesses, both in Portsmouth and across the UK, and supports millions of high-skilled, well-paid jobs. We cannot let this government’s divisions, incompetence and deregulation obsession put these at risk.

Portsmouth voted to leave the EU and Labour respects the result of the referendum. But people in our city did not vote to make themselves poorer.

Labour will continue to hold the government to account on Brexit and make they put jobs and living standards ahead of the reckless, hard-line ideology of a handful of backbenchers.

I’ll keep listening to the views and concerns of local people and businesses at this critical juncture for our country”.