Discussions around free movement would form part of Labour’s negotiations with the European Union after Brexit, said Jeremy Corbyn.
Andrew Marr asked the Labour leader this morning (Sunday, May 19) to clarify his party’s position on free movement after Labour’s 2017 manifesto said free movement would end after Brexit.
Corbyn responded: “I’m not staunchly against freedom of movement. Our manifesto said the European system would not apply if you’re not in the European Union – but I quite clearly recognise there has to be a lot of movement of workers.
“Ask any company in manufacturing or any other sector how much they need and rely on workers from Europe and indeed the other way around.”
He added that discussions around free movement, “would be part of our negotiations with the EU”.
“Part of our negotiations, the extent to which workers would transfer from one country to the other and what the needs for it would be,” said Corbyn.
Asked if Labour would keep free movement as a non-member of the EU, Mr Corbyn replied: “It would be open for negotiation the level of movement of people between Europe and this country if we’re a non-member of the EU.”
Despite being pressed about whether Labour was a remain or leave party, Corbyn was unable to give Marr a direct yes or no answer.
When asked if the Labour election slogan was “Vote Labour, get Brexit”, Corbyn told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I think what would be a fair assessment would be to say Vote Labour, challenge austerity and guarantee living standards for the future, not a no-deal exit from the European Union which is all that’s being offered by the Tory right and, in a sense, by the Tory party.
“People and the British media are obsessed with defining people how they voted three years ago.”
He added that, after Parliament makes a decision regarding Brexit, Labour would “want a vote in order to decide what the future would be” and that a second referendum wouldn’t be disastrous.
He said: “I think [a second referendum] has to be an opportunity for public debate and public discussion, but it has to be about something and that’s why I have made the point clear about a customs union and trade and rights protection.”