On the Andrew Marr Show yesterday Jeremy Corbyn was explicit; Labour supported leaving the single market, because the single market was “dependent on membership of the EU”. Instead it would push for tariff-free trade with the EU after Brexit.
Critics argued that Corbyn was ignoring the “Norway option”, which would amount to the softest form of Brexit available. Norway is outside the EU but, as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), it is effectively a member of the single market. But on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour last night Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, said following Norway would amount to the UK becoming a “vassal state”. He told the programme:
If you do what Norway does, what happens is the very reasons that most people who voted leave, voted to leave – namely to regain sovereignty, to regain control of our borders, not to pay money into the European budget – all are not achieved …
To adopt the Norwegian situation would be to become a vassal state, because you actually end up paying money into the EU budget but you have less control over the regulations than you do now with a seat round the table.
But Corbyn and Gardiner have failed to persuade the Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones. Jones is arguably the powerful Labour figure holding executive office in the UK and, on the Today programme this morning, he said Britain could, and should, effectively stay in the single market after Brexit. He told the programme:
If we were not in the single market, we would be having a debate about how to access it, not how to leave it. There is no need to leave the single market, even as we leave the EU.
He said he did not accept the argument, put by the UK government, and Corbyn, that Brexit had to mean leaving the single market. And he explicitly made the case for copying Norway.
I went to Norway in January, they are not members of the EU, but they have almost full access to the single market. You don’t have to leave the EU and leave one of the world’s biggest markets at the same time. That’s an interpretation that’s been put on the result by the current UK government and that makes no sense at all.
I will post more from his interview shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day.
11am: Number 10 lobby briefing.
11am: Greg Clark, the business secretary, gives a speech on industrial strategy. He will announce a £246m investment in developing battery technology in Britain.
12.30pm: Michael-James Clifton, chief of staff to the president of the court of justice of the European Free Trade Association, joins other experts speaking at an Institute for Government briefing on Brexit.
And Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, is on a visit to Washington.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to publish a summary at lunchtime and another in the afternoon.
You can read all today’s Guardian politics stories here.
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