Putting stress on May, Labour backs new customs union with EU

COVENTRY, England (Reuters) – Britain ought to enter a brand new customs union with the European Union, Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn stated on Monday, establishing a potential parliamentary defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May who has vowed to depart the association after Brexit.

After months watching May’s Conservatives voice deep divisions on the EU with out committing himself to a transparent imaginative and prescient of life exterior the bloc, Corbyn stated he wished a “bespoke” customs union with exemptions for Britain on a lot of points.

But his proposals, like these set out by May final week and derided by a senior EU official as “pure illusion”, might fall flat in Brussels the place officers have dominated out “cherry picking” market entry with out accepting all the foundations.

“Labour would seek to negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland,” Corbyn instructed college students and native politicians at Coventry University in central England.

He gave for example the Mini, “one of Britain’s most iconic brands”, manufactured by Germany’s BMW (BMWG.DE).

The product, he stated, crosses the English Channel “three times in a 2,000-mile journey before the finished car rolls off the production line”, underlining the significance of a “frictionless supply chain”.

“But we are also clear that the option of a new UK customs union with the EU would need to ensure the UK has a say in future trade deals … Labour would not countenance a deal that left Britain as a passive recipient of rules decided elsewhere by others. That would mean ending up as mere rule takers.”

By leaving the one market, Britain would not have to simply accept limitless immigration from the EU – one of many important points that drove many individuals to vote for Brexit at a referendum in 2016.

The proposed customs union would cowl solely items, not the providers which can be an important a part of Britain’s economic system and exports presently given free entry to the one market.

A spokesman for the European Commission declined to remark however one diplomat stated on situation of anonymity: “Corbyn’s speech is most welcome but he cannot expect the EU single market to become the cherry on his ‘new cake’.”

A Labour supply stated there was no “plan B” if the EU rejected the plan beneath which the get together would press for “protections, clarifications or exemptions where necessary” for privatisation, public service competitors directives, state assist and procurement guidelines.

The CBI, the main business foyer, stated a customs union would “help grow trade without accepting freedom of movement or payments to the EU”, but it surely added: “businesses have their eyes wide open on Labour’s overall rhetoric on re-nationalisation”.

Corbyn confirmed no signal of backing away from these plans, saying he couldn’t settle for EU competitors guidelines for sectors such because the Royal Mail, “a natural monopoly”, or the bloc’s guidelines that dictated in the course of the nationalisation of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) the sale of its “best parts”.


The subsequent election is due in 2022, so the 68-year-old socialist might by no means get to the negotiating desk earlier than Britain leaves the EU. But by defining a clearer place on the buying and selling relationship, he has arrange a potential win in parliament.

Eight Conservative rebels have backed an modification to proposed commerce laws that seeks to bind the government into being in a customs union with the EU.

The vote, anticipated later this 12 months, might be tight: May holds a working majority of 13 seats and, whereas British media stated between 10 and 15 of her get together may insurgent, some pro-Brexit Labour MPs are anticipated to vote with the government.

“I appeal to MPs of all parties to be prepared to put the people’s interests before the ideological fantasies, join us in supporting the option of a new UK customs union with the EU that would give us a say in future trade agreements,” Corbyn stated.

While defeat can be a problem to May, a few of her rebels have performed down speak of a government collapse, and any modifications might be reversed later within the legislative course of.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox stated the government would delay the vote partly to realize extra time to persuade its MPs to vote with the government.

May is because of set out her newest imaginative and prescient for Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU in a speech on Friday, following a particular cupboard assembly on Thursday when she may also meet European Council President Donald Tusk who final week referred to as her concepts on future commerce ties “pure illusion”.

Labour is narrowly forward in opinion polls, however, just like the Conservatives, stays deeply divided on Brexit and has no urge for food for a second referendum on EU membership.

The get together’s divisions have been uncovered over the weekend when greater than 80 senior members referred to as on Corbyn, a very long time critic of the EU, to decide to remaining within the bloc’s single market.

“The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems. Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country,” Corbyn stated to applause.

“The truth is more down to earth and it’s in our hands.”

Additional reporting By Andrew MacAskill and William James in London, Writing by Elizabeth Piper and Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Robin Pomeroy

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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