LONDON — TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will today put more pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the Labour Party’s Brexit position by insisting staying in the single market is the best way to protect British workers.
O’Grady will use a speech at the TUC’s annual congress in Brighton to urge MPs to “put jobs, rights and livelihoods first” by keeping” all options on the table” when it comes to staying in the single market and customs union.
Labour leader Corbyn had previously ruled out keeping Britain in the single market after Brexit but in recent weeks Labour’s position on the internal market has softened significantly.
In July the party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said that retaining benefits of the single market was so important that remaining part of it could not be ruled out and last month announced that a Labour government would keep Britain in the single market during any transition period.
O’Grady will this afternoon urge Corbyn to take the softening of Labour’s Brexit stance one step further by making staying in the single market permanently after Brexit party policy. The TUC, which represents around 50 trade unions across the country, is a key voter base for Corbyn and played a big part in his ascent to the top of the party.
“We have set out our tests for the Brexit deal working people need. Staying in the single market and customs union would deliver it,” O’Grady is expected to say.
“The prime minister is sticking to the same old script that she can get whatever she wants, that we can all have all the same benefits of the single market without playing by the rules.
“This isn’t a grown-up negotiating position. It’s a letter to Santa. My challenge to all political parties is this: when it comes to Brexit, don’t box yourselves in. Don’t rule anything out. Keep all options on the table. And put jobs, rights and livelihoods first.”
The TUC General Secretary’s speech will coincide with the House of Commons debate on the EU withdrawal debate getting underway prior to a vote on the historic legislation on Monday evening.
The legislation, which seeks to transpose all EU law that currently affects the UK into domestic law, is expected to pass despite opposition from Labour and other parties in the Commons. Corbyn has imposed a three-line whip on Labour MPs to vote against the legislation he and others regard as a “power grab” by Theresa May’s government.
Opposition MPs and a number of Conservative MPs are concerned that the legislation will grant the government the power to amend and even scrap swathes of law without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny. Tory MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve described the bill as an “astonishing monstrosity” during a debate last week.
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