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Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn rejects calls to commit to single market

24 Septembre 2017

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Sunday a transitional period created to smooth the country's exit from the European Union should last as long as necessary.

Ahead of the conference Mr Corbyn's supporters secured an important victory in Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) over changes to the leadership election rules, and authorised the review of party democracy which the leader believes will be transformative.

In an attempt to offer a distinct alternative to the Conservative party, 30 senior figures, including Labour MPs, have written an open letter calling for the party to alter its stance on the market and customs union.

It comes as Mr Corbyn's supporters launched an eleventh-hour bid to prevent the Labour conference from toughening the party's line against Brexit.

But in a high-profile TV interview kicking off the week's events, the 68-year-old said Labour should not commit to such a policy.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has previously said that under a Labour government Britain would remain in the single market and the customs union for a transitional period of two to four years after Brexit.

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But signatories to a letter published in the Observer, including former shadow cabinet members Chuka Umunna and Heidi Alexander, as well as one of Mr Corbyn's closest allies in his early days as leader, Clive Lewis, said the party should go further to protect jobs and workers' rights.

"We need to look very carefully at the terms of any trade relationship, because at the moment we are part of the single market, obviously", he told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show. "I think we have to be quite careful about the powers we need as national governments".

The letter, which was also signed by the TSSA union's general secretary, Manuel Cortes, former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain and Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, warned leaving the single market would "hit the most vulnerable in our society hardest".

He suggested European Union rules could have prevented him as Prime Minister from intervening to prop up Britain's steel industry during its recent crisis, and would block a future Labour government from investing in industries.

Jeremy Corbyn said his drive to give Labour members more control over the party will help him enter Downing Street. He said he did not envisage a period lasting as long as 10 years.

Corbyn, who says he is preparing for government, told the BBC he was listening to those members of the Labour Party who want to keep the closest possible ties with the European Union, but he did not say whether he would change the party's policy.

Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn rejects calls to commit to single market