A Labour government could seek to remain in the European single market after Britain has left the EU, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet has said. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said it would be “fantastic” if Labour could negotiate a deal which allowed the UK to be a member of the single market and the customs union while regaining more control over its laws and borders.
However, she said it was “probably unlikely” they could gain the concessions they wanted in the negotiations and acknowledged the party wanted to “have our cake and eat it” in terms of a Brexit deal.
While Labour has said it wants to retain the benefits of the single market, shadow ministers have accepted that the UK could not remain a member if it was to end freedom of movement with the EU.
Appearing on BBC1’s Sunday Politics programme, however, Ms Long-Bailey said they needed to take a “flexible” approach to the negotiations and that the option of staying in the single market should remain open. “I am not saying that that option is completely off the table because stranger things have happened,” she said.
“We have got to respect the result of the referendum, we have got to respect the will of the people in terms of having greater control over our laws, greater control over our borders.
“If we could negotiate an agreement on remaining in the single market that dealt with all of those issues, then that would be fantastic. Whether that’s likely remains to be seen.
“We want to retain the benefits that we currently have within the customs union. We want to have our cake and eat it – as do most parties in Westminster – in terms of being able to negotiate our own trade deals.”
For the Conservatives, Brexit Minister Steve Baker said: “Once again, Labour have shown they do not accept the result of the referendum, and would continue to pursue membership of the single market.
“This is a shambles, with members of Corbyn’s inner circle refusing to agree on anything.”