Jeremy Corbyn has written to the Prime Minister offering his support for her Brexit deal - so long as she can meet five legally binding commitments, including joining a customs union.
Ahead of Theresa May’s talks with EU leaders on Thursday, Corbyn calls for a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union” as he insisted the PM gets Labour’s priorities enshrined in the political declaration setting out future relations with the EU.
Corbyn said that securing the demands in law is the only way of achieving Labour support and uniting the country. He makes no mention of a second referendum called for by some of his MPs and activists.
The Labour Party previously had six ‘tests’, but one requiring the “exact same benefits” as single market and customs union membership appears to have been dropped.
The Labour leader has told the PM that just seeking modifications to the Northern Irish backstop proposals is not enough to win widespread backing and that she must change tack on key red lines.
In the letter to the PM, which follows their Brexit meeting last week, Corbyn says of the customs union proposal: “This would include alignment with the union customs code, a common external tariff and an agreement on commercial policy that includes a UK say on future EU trade deals.
“We believe that a customs union is necessary to deliver the frictionless trade that our businesses, workers and consumers need, and is the only viable way to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.”
Labour also wants close alignment with the single market “underpinned by shared institutions and obligations, with clear arrangements for dispute resolution”.
Corbyn calls for “dynamic alignment on rights and protections so that UK standards keep pace with evolving standards across Europe as a minimum”.
Labour wants commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, as well as “unambiguous agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases”.
Corbyn also calls for further talks with the PM “with the aim of securing a sensible agreement that can win the support of parliament and bring the country together”.
The Labour leader tells the PM that last month’s rejection by MPs of her withdrawal agreement means a different approach is needed.
He writes: “Without changes to your negotiating red lines, we do not believe that simply seeking modifications to the existing backstop terms is a credible or sufficient response either to the scale of your defeat last month in parliament, or the need for a deal with the EU that can bring the country together and protect jobs.”
The Labour leader states: “There is, as was demonstrated last week, a clear majority in parliament that no deal must now be taken off the table and that there can be no return to a hard border in Northern Ireland in any circumstance.
“We recognise that any negotiation with the EU will require flexibility and compromise.
“Our first priority must be a deal that is best for jobs, living standards, our communities, in the context of increased and more equitable investment across all regions and nations of the UK.”