LONDON — Frontbench Labour MPs have accused Theresa May of seeking to “tank the economy” and said that her plan to leave the EU’s single market will “cut Britain off from one of the largest markets on the entire planet.”
The prime minister confirmed in a speech on Tuesday morning that she would pursue a “hard Brexit” by pulling Britain out of the free-trade area in order to have full control over immigration from the EU.
Labour’s position on Brexit has been inconsistent since the referendum, but the party has been clear in its desire to remain in the single market.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News that there were “enormous dangers” in May’s plan.
He said: “I think we have to have a deal that ensures we have access to the market, we have British jobs dependant on that market — that’s what we will be pushing for. Whether it is specifically this form of single market, I don’t know. She seems to be wanting to have her cake and eat it.”
“”We are going to hold them account on all of this because I think there are enormous dangers in all of this,” he added.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the House of Commons after the speech that leaving the single market would threaten jobs and public finances, and said: “This isn’t a clean Brexit, it’s an extremely messy Brexit.” Here’s how other MPs reacted on Twitter:
Labour’s Chukka Umanna, shadow minister for business, said that May seems “determined to tank the economy.”
He also criticised May and Chancellor Philip Hammond’s threat to turn the UK into a low-tax, low-regulation haven if the EU tried to strike a “punitive” deal with the UK:
Angela Smith, former shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons, borrowed the language of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who once described his politics as “pro-having cake and pro-eating it.”
“Much to commend”
Other MPs, however, heralded May’s speech as forward-looking and positive. Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps described May’s speech as “visionary,” and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News that May’s “powerful” speech would be “well-received around the world:”
Meanwhile Anna Soubry, a Tory MP who has been one of Brexit’s most vocal opponents, praised May for the speech. She tweeted that the speech had “much to commend” and said the tone was “spot on.” Although Soubry still opposes leaving the single market, she welcomed the news that parliament will get a vote on the final Brexit deal:
UKIP MEP Nigel Farage said that May was using the “words and phrases” used by his own party for years:
And UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell said the single-market move heralded a “liberal” exit:
Threatening our EU partners with a “new economic model”-turning the UK into a giant tax haven for the super rich & multinationals- is wrong
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) January 17, 2017
Parliament will vote on the final deal – now let’s have a white paper, scrutiny and debate
— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) January 17, 2017
I can hardly believe that the PM is now using the phrases and words that I’ve been mocked for using for years. Real progress.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) January 17, 2017
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