Jeremy Corbyn has said that Britain is “now at a crossroads” as it decides the direction it will take following its exit from the European Union.
The outgoing Labour leader commented ahead of the UK officially leaving the European bloc on January 31st at 11pm after three extensions to Article 50 since it was triggered in March 2017.
Commenting on the future trajectory of the country, Corbyn called for a “truly internationalist, diverse and outward-looking Britain” and the protection of jobs, rights and standards.
The opposition leader said: “Leaving the EU carries out the decision of the referendum of 2016. But many of the most important choices about Britain’s future relationship with Europe and the wider world have yet to be made.
“Britain is now at a crossroads. As we leave the EU, we have an opportunity to shape our future role within the international community for decades to come. Britain’s place in the world will change. The question is what direction we now take.”
Corbyn went on to warn against a “hastily arranged” and “one-sided” trade deal with the US that would facilitate a “race-to-the-bottom”.
During the general election, the Labour leader obtained documents that he said showed that the US was demanding that the NHS be on the table in future trade talks.
He has also wrote to the Prime Minister and said that such a trade deal could lead to an increase in the cost of pharmaceuticals to the NHS.
Corbyn added: “We will always want to ensure a close, strong and cooperative relationship with the EU. And we need to ensure that EU nationals who have made their homes in the UK are guaranteed permanent residency rights, as well as British nationals in EU states, and thank them for the contribution they make to our society.”
From February 1st, as the transition period first proposed by Labour begins, the UK government and the EU will be able to start negotiating an agreement as to how the UK will work and trade with the bloc.
On Labour’s role in the process, Corbyn said: “We will hold the government to account every step of the way: to ensure jobs and living standards, rights at work, and consumer and environmental standards are protected as part of whatever is negotiated with the EU, the US or any other country.”
“We are determined to defend the gains we have made with others on these issues in the EU. And we will resist a toxic Trump deal that puts our NHS, food standards and jobs at risk.
After a snap general election in which the Conservatives secured a majority of 80, parliament passed the withdrawal agreement bill that set out the conditions under which Brexit would take place.
The legislation covers a range of issues including travel, healthcare, citizens’ rights and agriculture. It also specifies that the UK will leave the customs union and have the authority to make its own trade deals with other countries.
Concluding his statements ahead of ‘Brexit Day’, Corbyn said: “That choice of which path we take for a post-Brexit Britain now lies before us.
“As we leave the European Union, whatever side we took in the Brexit debate, we now need to bring the country together to shape our common future, work to rebuild and strengthen our communities, and eliminate poverty and injustice in our society.”