Opposition leaders call on Jeremy Corbyn to rethink Labour's Brexit position

PUBLISHED: 00:01 04 February 2018

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

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Leaders of the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have signed a joint letter calling on Jeremy Corbyn to rethink Labour’s position on Brexit ahead of a meeting with his MPs.

Following the leaked government Brexit analysis showing that, under the three most plausible Brexit scenarios, there is no scenario that does not leave the UK worse off, the leaders have urged Mr Corbyn to rethink Labour’s opposition to continued membership of the single market and customs union.

With Mr Corbyn reportedly set to meet with his MPs to discuss their Brexit position in the coming days, Sir Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas, Ian Blackford (the SNP's leader at Westminster) and Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid's Westminster leader) have warned that time is running out for the Labour leader and called on him again to meet with opposition parties in order to put the brakes on the government’s plans for a Hard Brexit.

The opposition leaders have also invited Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC to attend the second of their cross-party summits.

In a letter to Ms O'Grady, the leaders voiced their agreement with concerns that workers’ rights, jobs, incomes, and living standards were all under threat from Tory plans to take the UK out of the single market and customs union.

Last month Mr Corbyn was empty-chaired after refusing to attend the first cross-party summit despite a poll showing 87% of Labour members back membership of the single market.

Sir Vince said: "Jeremy Corbyn has already been empty chaired by our group of opposition leaders once. We do not want to have to do so again.

"It is time for Labour’s leadership to join us and fight for Britain’s economic future, rather than allow the Conservatives to steer the UK towards a damaging and unmandated hard Brexit.

"This means, at the very least, they work alongside us to keep the UK within the single market and the customs union, a position the overwhelming majority of Labour’s members and Parliamentarians support.”

Mr Blackford said that the leaked analysis "confirmed that the UK is heading towards catastrophic consequences if this Tory government is left unchallenged to pursue its ideologically-driven Brexit".

He added: “That is why it is vital that all opposition parties in Westminster work together and put the brakes on a Hard Brexit.

"We will work to protect our membership of the single market and customs union – which puts jobs and living standards front and centre of the Brexit negotiations. There is still a seat at the table for Jeremy Corbyn to join with other Westminster opposition leaders and work with us before it’s too late.”

Ms Saville Roberts said: “The leaked Brexit assessments expose the importance of maintaining our economic links with Europe after we leave the EU and, with a minority government in a hung Parliament, we have a rare opportunity to force the Tories into taking the sensible option – but only if the Labour Party work with us.

“The invite to the Labour leader remains open and I hope he’ll put party politics aside and join the rest of the opposition in fighting against the Tories’ hard Brexit.”

Ms Lucas said that "a Tory Brexit will hit those with the least hardest".

She added: "That's why we believe that Labour must ditch their fence sitting and join us in campaigning for Britain to remain a member of the single market and customs union. We also believe that Labour should now consider support a public vote on the terms of the Brexit deal - so that those who started this process can have a say at the end."

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