As you may be aware, Labour’s Spokesperson on Brexit, Keir Starmer, confirmed Labour’s policy is to seek a transitional deal on the same basic terms we have now, in order to avoid a cliff-edge for our economy. That means seeking to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the Single Market during that transitional period, abiding by the common rules of both. This would avert the risk to British jobs and from delayed investment decisions during the exit process. The Prime Minister and Brexiteers in the Cabinet previously suggested a transitional period was unnecessary, but there is now a wide consensus (including the TUC and the CBI) that this is a political and economic necessity.
As I have previously outlined, it is highly unlikely that bespoke arrangements can be negotiated and established by March 2019, and an extended transitional deal will provide much needed certainty for British businesses and consumers. It also remains my view that we must seek to remain in the customs union and single market after the transition period in the best long-term interests of our economy.
My Labour colleagues and I are also clear that unless there are significant changes to the EU (Withdrawal) bill, we will vote against it, given our serious concerns about the excessive use by Ministers of delegated powers, and the potential watering down of key rights and protections such as workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections.