Britain could remain in the EU single market permanently Labour’s deputy leader has claimed.
Tom Watson’s comments came even though party leader Jeremy Corbyn says Britain must leave it following the Brexit vote last year.
Watson was speaking to BBC Newsnight.
He said Labour were now the party of ‘soft Brexit’.
‘We think that being part of the customs union and the single market is important in those transitional times because that is the way you protect jobs and the economy,’ said Watson.
‘And it might be a permanent outcome of the negotiations, but we have got to see how those negotiations go.’
His comments seem at odds with Mr Corbyn, who said as recently as July that Britain was leaving the single market because it was ‘inextricably linked’ to EU membership.
However, Labour has signalled that it will now keep Britain in both the single market and the customs union for up to four years long after March 2019, if it is returned to power.
Now Watson has suggested that the move could be permanent.
He was speaking after the latest fractious round of talks between the UK and the EU in Brussels on Thursday.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier accused Britain of failing to honour obligations with regards to Britain’s divorce bill.
However, Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted he was being ‘pragmatic’ about the bill and ‘we have a duty to our taxpayers to interrogate it rigorously’.