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Labour launches push for Brexit deal retaining single market benefits

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn making his keynote address to the Labour Party annual conference, at the Brighton Centre, Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 27, 2017. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Labour will push for a "new single market" deal for the UK after Brexit as the UK Government faces crunch votes in the House of Commons next week.

Jeremy Corbyn's frontbench has tabled amendments to the Brexit Bill which would call on Theresa May to make maintaining "full access" to the EU "internal market" an objective of the negotiations with Brussels.

The move stops just short of calling for the full single market membership sought by a vocal group of Labour MPs after the Lords backed a Norway-style membership of the European Economic Area.

But the measure - which has been tabled as an alternative to the Lords amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - is aimed at delivering the same benefits as single market membership.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: "We are confident we can build a new relationship with the EU. We want the UK to have a better deal than the Norway model."

It is understood Labour MPs will abstain on the Lords EEA amendment but will be asked to back the party's call for a "bespoke" deal which would see shared UK-EU institutions and regulations.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "Labour will only accept a Brexit deal that delivers the benefits of the single market and protects jobs and living standards.”

"Unlike the Tories, Labour will not sacrifice jobs and the economy in the pursuit of a reckless and extreme interpretation of the referendum result.”

"Existing single market agreements that the EU has negotiated with third countries, including Norway, are bespoke deals negotiated with the EU to serve the best interests of those countries.”

"We need to learn from them and negotiate our own more ambitious agreement, which serves our economic interests and which prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland.”

"Two years on from the referendum it is clear that the Government has no plan for how it will protect jobs and the economy, and guarantee no hard border in Northern Ireland.”

"Labour's amendment, along with a commitment to negotiate a new comprehensive customs union with the EU, is a strong and balanced package that would retain the benefits of the single market.”

"Parliament should have the opportunity to debate and vote on it."

Mrs May will seek to overturn the changes to her flagship Brexit legislation introduced in the Lords in a showdown in the Commons next week.

Without an overall majority, the PM is expected to spend the coming days trying to sweet-talk and strong-arm potential rebels who could inflict defeat on some of the Government's key Brexit positions.

Mrs May's decision to squeeze Commons consideration of the 15 Lords amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill into a single 12-hour day on June 12 provoked an angry reaction on the opposition benches.

Pic by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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