Brexit Latest: Corbyn sides with Tory rebels over customs union

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Labour's official stance on Brexit sees it side with Tory rebels who want a customs union.
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out his party's Brexit vision but will it topple Prime Minister Theresa May? The Tradefair team brings you the latest in UK politics...

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

- Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Leader.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that his party supports the UK staying in the customs union during the Brexit transitional period and perhaps longer.

He said: "Britain will need a bespoke, negotiated relationship of its own. During the transition period, Labour would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market."

"I appeal to MPs of all parties, prepared to put the people's interests before ideological fantasies, to join us in supporting the option of a new UK customs union with the EU, that would give us a say in future trade deals.

"Labour respects the result of the referendum and Britain is leaving the EU. But we will not support any Tory deal that would do lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards," he added.

This is a significant shift as it puts him alongside Conservatives who disagree with Prime Minister Theresa May's approach to Brexit.

Concerns around her leadership have been apparent since she entered Downing Street but this latest move from Labour could be enough to change the government's approach.

Without a Conservative majority, if Corbyn decides to submit an amendment that opts to stay in the customs union, Theresa May would be forced to change her Brexit strategy.

In his speech, the Labour leader said the EU is "not the root of all our problems" but neither is it "the source of all enlightenment".

"The truth is more down to earth and it's in our hands; Brexit is what we make of it together," he added.

A "bright new chapter"?

Despite this, the Prime Minister seems outwardly positive about the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

She will tell her Cabinet later this week that Brexit is the start of a "bright new chapter" for the country and that its best days "lie ahead".

The meeting scheduled for Thursday comes after a "war cabinet" meeting last week to work out the finer details of her plan to leave the trading bloc with key ministers.

She said: "Delivering the best Brexit is about our national future, part of the way we improve the lives of people all over the country.

"If we get them right, Brexit will be the beginning of a bright new chapter in our national story, and our best days really do lie ahead of us."

Still division in Europe

After her Cabinet address, the Prime Minister will head to the north-east to deliver a keynote speech on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. It's thought that May will look to seal a deal that allows Britain to leave the customs union but still observe certain EU rules to enable "frictionless" trade.

However, Brussels may still need convincing. European Council President Donald Tusk, who is expected to meet with May on Thursday, called the plans an "illusion".

Speaking at a press conference last week, he said: "It looks like the cake philosophy is still alive. From the very start it has been a key principle of the EU 27 that there can be no cherry-picking and no single market a la carte."

Tusk added that this will continue to be a "key principle" of negotiations and it is this division that continues to be a problem for investors. Until the EU and UK can come to an agreement, economists and investors alike are struggling to predict how the move will impact businesses.

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