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Top Labour MP 'supports' policy he called 'b******s'

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
Jeremy Corbyn has "had a conversation" with a shadow minister who branded one of Labour's key Brexit policies as "b******s".
But the Labour leader insisted Barry Gardiner, his shadow international trade secretary, "does not denounce our Brexit policies".
This was despite a leaked recording in which Mr Gardiner is heard expressing his verdict on one of Labour's six "tests" for a Brexit deal.Labour has said it will only support a Brexit deal in the House of Commons if it meets these tests.This includes an agreement with the EU delivering the "exact same benefits" as the UK currently enjoys as a member of the bloc's single market and customs union.
Top Labour MP 'supports' policy he called 'b******s'

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Jeremy Corbyn had a 'very productive' conversation with his shadow minister
In a recording obtained by the BBC, reportedly from an event in Brussels last month, Mr Gardiner said: "Let's just take one test - the 'exact same benefits'. Bollocks."Always has been bollocks and it remains it."We know very well that we cannot have the 'exact same benefits'."Actually, it would have made sense, because it was the Tories that said they were going to secure the 'exact same benefits', and our position should have been, precisely, to say 'they have said they are going to secure the exact same benefits and we are going to hold them to that standard'."The Government has insisted the UK will leave both the single market and customs union after Brexit.Labour wants Britain to remain in a customs union with the EU but are not committed to staying in the single market.
Top Labour MP 'supports' policy he called 'b******s'

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Mr Gardiner has become a key supporter of Mr Corbyn
Responding to the recording of Mr Gardiner's comments, Mr Corbyn said: "Barry Gardiner does not denounce our Brexit policies, we've had a conversation with him."It's quite clear he does support our strategy of holding the Government to account on the tests that have been put forward and making sure we protect jobs, we maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and that we have tariff-free trade with Europe in the future."When it was suggested the recording does not appear to show Mr Gardiner supporting his party's Brexit policy, Mr Corbyn added: "The conversations we had with Barry more recently have been very productive and very positive."
A Labour Party spokesman said: "Labour has set six tests for the final Brexit deal. Those include holding the Government to its own commitment to deliver the same benefits as the single market and customs union."We have been clear that, if those tests are not met, Labour will not back it in Parliament. Barry Gardiner fully supports that position."Mr Gardiner has already been forced to apologise for, at the same Brussels event, branding the Good Friday Agreement a "shibboleth" that is being "played up for economic reasons" during Brexit negotiations.The shadow minister, who is reportedly on holiday in New Zealand, having left before Parliament broke for its current recess, has come under attack from fellow Labour MPs.
Owen is sacked for sensibly saying we should stay in #SingleMarket & #CustomsUnion Barry parrots hard Tory right on Good Friday Agreement & fears of a hard border & rubbishes Labour’s whole #Brexit policy & isn’t? Weird.— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) April 10, 2018
Chris Leslie, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, said: "Barry Gardiner's increasingly maverick behaviour must be embarrassing for his frontbench colleagues."He not only dismissed the Good Friday Agreement in a highly irresponsible manner, but also trashed the central point of Keir Starmer's Brexit policy - the pledge to vote against any final Brexit deal that didn't offer 'the exact same benefits'."Labour's policy, agreed by the party conference, is very clear: without the exact same benefits being on offer in any final Brexit deal, Labour would keep the option of staying in the EU on the table."It is time members of the shadow cabinet started speaking out for that and ended the sort of eccentric self-indulgence of the type shown by Barry Gardiner."Fellow Labour backbencher Ben Bradshaw highlighted how Mr Corbyn sacked shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith last month for calling for a second EU referendum and for the UK to stay in the single market, but hasn't dismissed Mr Gardiner.He posted on Twitter: "Owen is sacked for sensibly saying we should stay in #SingleMarket & #CustomsUnion.
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"Barry parrots hard Tory right on Good Friday Agreement & fears of a hard border & rubbishes Labour's whole #Brexit policy & isn't? Weird."Mr Smith challenged Mr Corbyn for the Labour leadership in 2016, while Mr Gardiner has become one of the Labour leader's strongest supporters in the shadow cabinet.
news.sky.com
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