Corbyn dismisses calls for 'soft Brexit' support

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he is opposed to Britain opting for a Norway-style relationship with the EU after Brexit, despite fresh calls from Labour MPs to back the model in a parliamentary vote.
The Labour leader claimed the UK would be left as "rule-takers not rule-makers" if it remained in the European Economic Area (EEA) once outside the EU.
The House of Lords this week paved the way for MPs to hold a vote on EEA membership, which allows countries to be part of the EU's single market without being full members of the bloc.Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are all EEA members but not part of the EU.By amending the EU Withdrawal Bill to allow for continued EEA membership, peers have prompted a major headache for both Mr Corbyn and the Prime Minister.The Government is set to try and remove the House of Lords amendment when the key Brexit legislation returns to the House of Commons, but Mr Corbyn is coming under increasing pressure from pro-Remain Labour MPs to support EEA membership in a possible vote.The peers' amendment was passed with the support of 83 Labour rebels in the House of Lords, who defied party orders to abstain.
Corbyn dismisses calls for 'soft Brexit' support

The House of Lords has paved the way for MPs to vote on the single market
Speaking during a visit to Scotland on Friday, Mr Corbyn signalled he will ignore pleas from backbench MPs to support EEA membership - classed by many as "soft Brexit".He said: "We've made it very clear our whole strategy is that we recognise the result of the referendum, that we obtain a tariff-free trade relationship with Europe and that we develop a customs union to go alongside that."But, the EEA of itself, does not offer that because the EEA would not offer us any power to negotiate, we would merely be rule-takers not rule-makers in that."So, we would want a comprehensive relationship with the EU that developed that trading relationship."However, Mr Corbyn suggested Labour will support peers' amendments on environmental standards, food safety and workers' rights as he paid tribute to "those that have managed to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill in such a positive way in so many cases".
The Labour leader's comments came after an Opinium survey of Labour supporters revealed 69% back having a referendum on the final Brexit deal, compared to 18% who oppose it.
Corbyn dismisses calls for 'soft Brexit' support

Mr Corbyn with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "To retain the economic benefits of the EU if we Brexit we must continue to participate in the EEA as the TUC and others advocate, and - given all the new facts arising - there should be a People's Vote on the Brexit deal."MPs alone should not determine the destinies of 65 million people on such a big issue."Following talks with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard on Friday, Mr Corbyn also backed Scottish Labour's decision not to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the Scottish Parliament.He said: "I'm very happy the Scottish Labour Party will be voting against the legislative consent proposal this week."Because, quite clearly, there is a power grab going on by Whitehall on the EU Withdrawal Bill."What they're doing is taking powers from Brussels that then ought to go to Scotland, Wales and English regions and instead hoarding them in Whitehall."That is unacceptable to us and we have made that very, very clear."Despite their initial opposition to the EU Withdrawal Bill, the Labour-led Welsh Government will now back the legislation.
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However, the SNP-run Scottish Government still opposes the bill, claiming the UK could be plunged into a constitutional crisis if it continues to withdraw support.Mr Corbyn dismissed claims by SNP MP Mhairi Black that he secretly supports Scotland breaking away from the UK, insisting he has "never supported Scottish independence".
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