Jeremy Corbyn put pressure on Theresa May to clarify the government’s position on Brexit in their first clash since the end of conference season.
In a feisty session of Prime Minister’s Questions, the newly re-elected Labour leader accused the prime minister of being willing to sacrifice Britain’s membership of the European Single Market in order to “appease” hardline Brexiteers in her party.
“Mr Speaker, the member for Broxtowe [Anna Soubry MP] said there’s a danger that this government appears to be turning their back on the single market which was indeed a commitment in the Conservative Party manifesto,” he said.
“The reality is that since the Brexit vote, the trade deficit is widening, growth forecasts are being downgraded, the value of the pound is down 16%, an alliance of the Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, British Retail Consortium and Trade Union Congress have all made representations to the prime minister demanding clarity,” Corbyn said.
“Is the prime minister really willing to risk a shambolic Tory Brexit just to appease the people behind her?” he asked.
Once again, the prime minister refused to disclose specific details regarding Britain’s negotiating position, simply vowing to secure “maximum possible access” to the free trade arena. May also confirmed MPs would be given time to debate the terms of Britain’s departure from the 28-nation bloc but didn’t confirm whether they would be given the chance to vote.
The Labour leader, who joked earlier in the session that unlike May he had actually been elected to his party, also criticised the government for the contentious plan it has allegedly drawn up to make UK firms publish lists of foreign people they employ. Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the policy at the Tory conference in Birmingham.
The prime minister shrugged off Corbyn’s question, saying compiling lists of foreign workers lists was “never” part of the government’s plans.
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