Labour to back customs union, says May faces Brexit "crunch time"

25 February, 2018, 17:42 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Stourbridge News

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer says Labour will call on Monday for the United Kingdom to be in a customs union with the EU once it leaves, a move which would smooth the Irish border issue but limit Britain's ability to strike its own free trade deals with other countries.

Keir Starmer said on Sunday his party had agreed that if it wins power it should negotiate to create a new union with the bloc, and said Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May faced a potential rebellion over her position on the policy.

In a keynote speech early next week, the UK's Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to urge the party to support Britain's permanent membership of a customs union with the EU.

May hosted an eight-hour meeting of her Brexit war committee last week in an attempt to forge a common position.

Starmer said the United Kingdom would be better off negotiating new trade deals alongside the European Union, and that "the cost benefit analysis is absolutely clear on this".

And he also warned the PM that Labour could unite with Tory rebels to back an amendment calling for the United Kingdom to stay in a customs union with the bloc.

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"It's the only way to get tariff-free access, it's really important for our manufacturing base, and nobody can answer your question of how you keep your commitment to [having] no hard border in Northern Ireland without a customs union".

He told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: 'I hope that they will have an open mind and listen to what the Prime Minister says because I think that what the Prime Minister will set out will deal with a lot of the reservations that they have'.

But Labour also remains divided over Brexit.

Two Conservative members of parliament have backed amendments to a trade bill before parliament that would keep Britain in the customs union.

More than 80 senior figures from across the Labour Party have signed a statement warning Mr Corbyn that key policies would be unaffordable if the United Kingdom leaves the single market. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

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