European Interest

Labour’s case for the customs union

Flickr/Andy Miah/CC BY-NC 2.0
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to clarify the party’s Brexit stance.

Britain’s opposition Labour party will back a new customs union with the European Union to make commerce with the bloc easier even though it would limit the UK’s ability to strike other trade deals.

“Crunch time is now coming for the prime minister because the majority in parliament does not back her approach to a customs union and… will be heard sooner rather than later,” said Keir Starmer.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Starmer’s comments, in a BBC television interview, came before a speech by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on February 26 when he is expected to clarify the party’s Brexit stance.

The Conservatives are deeply divided over what sort of relationship should be built between the EU and the world’s sixth-largest economy after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The adoption by Labour of a more decisive position of support for a customs union with the EU would intensify pressure on May’s party, which holds a minority of seats in parliament.

Such a shift could pave the way for Labour to vote alongside Conservative lawmakers who are backing amendments to a trade bill that would keep Britain in the customs union, reported Reuters.

Meanwhile, Trade minister Liam Fox urged Conservative colleagues to keep an “open mind” and said their concerns might be addressed in a speech by the prime minister on March 1.

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