Jeremy Corbyn today accused Theresa May of incoherence over her plans to pull Britain out of the single market.
The Labour leader said May wanted to “have her cake and eat it” after she finally broke her silence over Brexit and provoked anger among business and unions by revealing her intention to bring Britain out of the world’s largest trading bloc.
Corbyn said Labour would continue to push for access to the single market amid fears the prime minister had sacrificed automatic trading rights in order to appease hardcore Tory Brexiteers who want to curb immigration by ending freedom of movement.
“She has said to leave the single market and then at the same time said she wants to have access to the single market. I am not quite sure how that is going to go down in Europe,” Corbyn told Sky News.
“I think we have to have a deal that ensures we have access to the market, we have British jobs dependant on that market – that’s what we will be pushing for. Whether it is specifically this form of single market, I don’t know. She seems to be wanting to have her cake and eat it.”
May’s speech came days after Corbyn shifted Labour’s position on immigration more broadly, saying the party would accept “reasonably managed migration”. That stance was thrown into doubt, however, by the party leader’s subsequent statements on freedom of movement after Brexit.
When Corybn was today asked if there should be “some degree” of free movement in what Britain is prepared to negotiate, he said: “She [May] concedes that herself. She concedes that we depend a great deal on people who come to work in this country and also she makes the correct point – which indeed parliament has already voted on – that EU nationals living in Britain should be allowed to remain here, just as much as British nationals – of which there are probably 1.5 million living across Europe – are able to continue living there so there is going to have to be a close relationship with Europe in future.
“We are going to hold them account on all of this because I think there are enormous dangers in all of this. When she talks about future trade arrangements all she said was that Donald Trump said we would be first in the queue. First in the queue for an investor protection-type trade treaty? I don’t know exactly what she has in mind on that.”