According to shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, the party will back Britain’s continued membership in the bloc’s single market and customs union in the transitional period which is up to four years as part of a “soft” Brexit, after leaving the EU, The Guardian reported on Saturday.
This means that the UK would continue to abide by the EU’s free movement rules, accept the jurisdiction of the European Court Of Justice and pay into the EU budget after Brexit.
He said permanent long-term membership would only be considered if a Labour government could by then have persuaded the rest of the EU to agree to a special deal on immigration and changes to freedom of movement rules.
“We will always put jobs and the economy first,” Starmer told The Guardian.
“That means 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,” he was quoted as saying.
A Labour spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the Guardian report that Labour agreed to back “continued membership of the EU single market beyond March 2019” in an attempt to offer a clear alternative to the Brexit currently proposed by Theresa May’s Conservative government.
He said the party would propose the same “basic terms” as the UK’s current relationship with the EU during the transition period following Brexit in 2019.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party reportedly would also “leave open the option of the UK remaining a member of the customs union and single market for good, beyond the end of the transitional period.”
EU officials have been complaining that the British side has been weaseling out of its obligations, failing to address three key points in previous Brexit talks.
The three main points highlighted by Brussels negotiators include: EU citizen rights, Northern Ireland’s border and the divorce bill.
The second round of talks at the EU headquarters had ended with “fundamental” differences remaining.
After that round, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told Britain that it needed to clarify its position on key issues if there was to be sufficient progress in the Brexit negotiations.
London was advised to address the remaining issues and come forward with a methodology they think suites the divorce calculations.
Brussels says London has declined to address the issues so far.