Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson has confirmed that it is Labour policy to end freedom of movement once the UK leaves the EU.
The 2017 manifesto, For the Many Not the Few, began its section on immigration with the statement: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union.” It added: “Labour will develop and implement fair immigration rules.”
After PMQs today, in which the Prime Minister cited ending free movement as an area of agreement, the Labour leader’s office said that this pledge remains party policy and that Labour supports “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”.
There has been doubt over whether this was still the case, particularly as Labour recently backed an indicative votes motion setting out a Norway-style Brexit – termed Common Market 2.0 – which would entail single market membership and therefore free movement of people.
But LabourList understands that the party doesn’t consider the amendments it whipped for earlier this week – Theresa May’s deal plus a customs union; Common Market 2.0; a confirmatory public vote on “any” deal – to now be party policy.
In a recent LabourList readers’ survey, over 83% of respondents said freedom of movement should continue as part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
On the matter of another referendum, Corbyn’s spokesperson said: “Our policy is to support a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or no deal.” This was repeated when it was asked whether this means a Brexit deal including customs union membership would be subject to a public vote.
The implication is that Labour’s alternative plan – meeting its five demands for a customs union, close alignment with the single market, dynamic alignment on rights and protections, etc – would not have to be ‘put to the people’ in another referendum.
If that is the case, Corbyn would not require May to agree to another referendum or the ‘Kyle/Wilson‘ plan as a condition of his support for the deal – despite many Labour MPs urging him to make this a requisite for their votes.
Corbyn is understood to be going into talks with the Prime Minister this afternoon with his five demands as the basis for cross-party negotiations. He will be accompanied by Labour whip Nick Brown, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Asked why Long-Bailey, who is thought not to be keen on backing another referendum, was joining the meeting, the spokesman replied: “A substantial number of our demands relate to her brief.”