Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has declared that the United Kingdom could stay in the single market and customs union permanently after Brexit.
Watson said remaining in both the customs union and the single market “might be a permanent outcome of the negotiations” as Labour places itself to be the party of “soft Brexit.”
Watson also said that Labour considers remaining in both throughout a period of transition is “important” as “that is the way you protect jobs and the economy.” during an interview on the BBC’s Newsnight.
Last Sunday, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary of Labour announced that a Labour government would attempt to negotiate a transitional period which would see Britain remain both in the EU customs union and the European single market.
That is despite Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour leader, previously declaring that the United Kingdom had to abandon the single market when it left the European Union in July.
Starmer stated that Labour “would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both.
“We will always put jobs and the economy first. That means remaining in a form of customs union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but that must be subject to negotiations.”
Notable trade unions and Labour MPs had been demanding Corbyn to announce that Labour would retain the United Kingdom’s involvement in the single market following Brexit so that his “jobs-first” Brexit could materialise.
The Conservative Party of Theresa May has made it clear that when Brexit occurs, its policy is to remove the United Kingdom from both the customs union and the single market.
On Thursday, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said that there had been no “decisive progress on any of the principle subjects.” The two sides must perform “sufficient progress” on the Irish border, the divorce bill, and the citizens’ rights before discussions about the future relationship of the UK with Brussels can occur.
During Watson’s interview, he also asserted that there was no movement to remove him as deputy leader, as he has criticised leader Corbyn before. Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour leader, resigned on Tuesday amid speculation it was because of her opposition to Corbyn.
Labour’s deputy leader stated: “Well, there is always someone trying to get rid of you in politics, But, no, I don’t actually see any move to remove me from my position.
“In fact, what I see after the general election, is the party coming together. A recognition, you know, under Jeremy’s leadership, we did far better than anyone anticipated. Probably more than Jeremy himself.”