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  1. ITV Report

Corbyn refuses to commit Labour to stance on single market and customs union post-Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to say whether Labour is in favour or not of remaining in the single market and customs union post-Brexit.

The Labour leader's remarks came after he met with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator in Brussels.

When questioned by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen, Mr Corbyn said the pair "didn't go into the details of the future economic relationship", but that Labour want "a trade relationship with Europe which enables our manufacturing and service industries to continue trading with Europe".

Remaining in the single market would allow the UK to trade with countries in the European Union without restrictions or tariffs.

While remaining in the customs union would mean that Britain charges the same import duties as EU countries and trades with them.

Michel Barnier also met with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: AP

When pressed on Labour's stance on the single market and customs union, the Islington North MP replied: "What we're in favour of is a tariff-free trading relationship with Europe in the future and that's as far as we've got."

Asked if this meant a Labour government would seek to remain in the single market and customs union, Mr Corbyn said: "What it means is we negotiate to achieve the best possible outcome, the best possible deal for Britain which has to be a trade relationship with the EU."

In further repeated questioning the 68-year-old stressed that the "crucial position is the economic relationship between Britain and the European Union in future", and a Labour government would "make sure we have a trading relationship with the EU that protects industries, protects jobs and protects services".

At the pair's "very interesting, very frank discussion" Mr Corbyn told Mr Barnier that "Labour is a government in waiting" and ready to take up responsibility for negotiating Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

Michel Barnier also met with Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones. Credit: AP

Mr Corbyn also told the former French cabinet minister that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK would be "unilaterally protected" post-Brexit, and that he expected the same in return for Britons in Europe.

The Labour leader added that if he were to become prime minister, the government would not sign a trade treaty with the US as it would be at " variance with the Paris climate change accord and damaging to living standards and working conditions in Britain".

Mr Corbyn also promised that Labour would avoid the "megaphone diplomacy" employed by the Conservatives and that Labour's approach to EU withdrawal would be "very different" from Theresa May's Conservatives.

Prior to the meeting, the pair exchanged gifts with Mr Corbyn giving Mr Barnier a copy of the Labour Party manifesto and an Arsenal shirt (the team he supports) with the name "Barnier" on the back, while the EU diplomat presented Mr Corbyn with a "beautiful" railway poster.

The meeting between Mr Corbyn and Mr Barnier came just a day after Mr Barnier criticised Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for saying the EU could "go whistle" for a divorce payment from the UK, telling him: "I'm not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking."

Mr Corbyn, was joined in Brussels by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

Mr Barnier also met Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones for private talks ahead of the second round of formal negotiations in Brussels next week.

However, Mr Barnier stressed that he will negotiate only with the UK Government.