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After months of reticence in saying exactly what his Brexit policy is, we’re still pretty much in the dark on what Jeremy Corbyn’s position actually is.
But the Labour leader seems to be becoming more comfortable on the issue, with his own Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith describing his position as “evolving and deepening”.
Mr Smith’s comment on ITV1’s Good Morning Britain came as he was asked if his desire to remain in the single market and a customs union put him at odds with the party leader, to which he replied: “No, I think Jeremy’s position is evolving and deepening.”
Mr Corbyn has faced accusations of ambiguity when it comes to his position on Brexit, but it appears the Opposition leader may be becoming more comfortable with the issue.
What do we know about Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit?
Mr Corbyn has been reticent in outlining a firm policy for Brexit.
The opposition leader has found himself at odds with some pro-EU MPs and has appeared more recently to potentially be shifting his stance on some issues.
Mr Corbyn previously insisted that the UK cannot be a member of the single market after Brexit, despite calls from some Labour figures to listen to Labour’s pro-EU members and commit to staying in it.
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However, Mr Corbyn recently told a business audience that the UK would have to have “a customs union” with the remaining EU, though that wouldn’t necessarily mean being a member of the current customs union.
The Labour leader’s latest appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions indicated to many that he appeared more comfortable and open about Brexit, appearing to suggest that he will endorse staying in the customs union.
Very telling that Corbyn now seems comfortable on Brexit. From this line of questioning trajectory of Labour is clear: will endorse staying in the customs union. Probably total alignment of regulations too. #PMQs
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) February 21, 2018
So what is Labour’s official position on Brexit?
Labour’s official position is that it will seek to retain the benefits for Britain of the single market and customs union, but it is not committed to membership following the end of the two-year transition period expected to end in 2021.
What about freedom of movement?
As part of his election promises in 2017, Mr Corbyn declared that free movement of people would end after Britain leaves the European Union.
There had been confusion over the issue after Mr Corbyn previously appeared to back free movement just hours before a speech where he was due to say the Labour party wasn’t “wedded” to the principle.
He later vowed that a Labour government would implement a “managed” and “fair” migration system but refused to be drawn on specific figures.
What else has Mr Corbyn said about Brexit?
While some have criticised him for his lack of specifics, Mr Corbyn himself urged the Cabinet to “stop fighting” and spell out what it wants from Brexit.
His calls came after Brexit Secretary David Davis dismissed suggestions Britain was heading for a “Max Mad-style” dystopia after leaving the European Union and committed to maintaining high regulatory standards.
Mr Corbyn said: “We are leaving the EU, but our businesses must not be forced to withdraw from European markets.
“Business needs clarity and with four out of six of the Government’s “Road to Brexit” speeches already delivered, it seems to me their approach to Brexit is, if anything, less clear.
“It’s time for the Cabinet to stop fighting and the Government to say where it wants to take the country.”
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During PMQs, Mr Corbyn accused the Government of being on the “road to nowhere” as he challenged Theresa May to reveal her Brexit strategy.
He said: “We’re halfway through the six speeches we were told would set out the Government’s negotiating position.
“So far, all we’ve had is waffle and empty rhetoric. Businesses need to know, people want to know, even her backbenchers are demanding to know – but it isn’t clear from today’s exchanges.
“This Government isn’t on the road to Brexit, Mr Speaker, it’s on the road to nowhere.”
What do people say about his refusal to be specific?
Former Labour shadow chancellor Chris Leslie called on Mr Corbyn to stop taking “a path of deliberate ambiguity”.
Writing in the London Evening Standard, he said: “A sheepish silence in the hope that Brexit will just pass us by will not work any longer.”
His comments came as part of calls on Mr Corbyn to whip the 262 Labour MPs on a vote to keep Britain in the EU customs union, saying it would be “unforgivable” to do nothing.
“Taking a path of deliberate ambiguity in the hope we won’t offend anyone is not the principled stance that the vast majority of Labour’s membership expect from this leadership team,” Mr Leslie wrote.
“This is the defining issue of our times and it is not going to go away. We have a responsibility to prevent the austerity that will hit the poorest hardest.”