Rejoining the single market would not boost the UK’s economic growth, Sir Keir Starmer has claimed.
The Labour leader first said he did not think the move would uplift the economy “at this stage”, before later appearing to suggest this would apply indefinitely.
He argued trade has “gone down” because “the deal that we’ve got is not a very good deal”, insisting there is a case for a “better Brexit”.
Asked if being part of the single market would boost economic growth, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, at this stage, I don’t think it would.
“And there’s no case for going back to the EU or going back into the single market.”
He added: “Do I think, just to take your question head on, that going back into years of wrangling, years of uncertainty, is going to help our economy? No, I don’t.”
Pressed on whether such a move could boost growth in future, if not now, he said: “No, I don’t think having left … I argued for remain, as everybody knows.
“We left, and having left, there is no case now for saying ‘go back’. And going into the single market and customs union, we’ve had this debate endlessly over the years, 2016-19, is effectively going back in.
“I do think that we can have a deal that operates better than the deal that we have got, and that’s what I would seek to do. And that’s what I mean by making Brexit work.
“But I do also fundamentally believe that if we don’t address the other underlying issues that have bedevilled growth in this country … then we will not actually be able to fix the problems that we’ve got.”