1. ITV Report

Jeremy Corbyn calls for new customs union with EU after Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has called on MPs from all parties to support Labour plans for a new customs union with the European Union after Brexit.

Labour's vision for Brexit is one in which there is tariff-free trade with Europe which would also help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland, he said.

And at a speech in Coventry, the Labour leader rejected any "race to the bottom" on issues such as workers’ rights, environmental safeguards, consumer protections or food safety standards.

He accused the Conservatives of leaving the country "in the dark" about their plans for Brexit, as he called on MPs who are "prepared to put the people’s interests before ideological fantasies" to support plans for a customs union.

After the speech he told ITV News if the government is defeated in Parliament in a vote on the final Brexit deal, it faces two choices.

"One is to go back and negotiate something different. The other one is to resign. In which case we'll have a general election."

He also accused the government of treating EU nationals living in the UK "disgracefully".

"We would legislate to give them permanent rights of residence and clearly they would have rights to come and work here," he told ITV News, adding the country needs EU nationals to fix issues such as a staffing crisis in the NHS.

The speech at Coventry University followed Labour's Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer's comments on the weekend that Labour supports a customs union with the EU.

Corbyn said his party would seek existing single market rights, standards and protections in a final Brexit deal.

But it would negotiate protections and exemptions that could help workers and industry, such as changing state aid restrictions to allow governments to intervene to help struggling sectors.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Corbyn's plans breached the promises he made at the general election and accused him of selling "snake oil".

Labour's "jobs first" approach would include measures to stop employers being able to import cheap agency labour from abroad to undercut workers' pay.

The Labour leader's comments could upset those in the party who want the UK to remain in the single market.

A letter backed by more than 80 senior figures warned the leader his plans for investment in schools, hospitals and social care would be unfundable unless the UK stays in the internal market.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out membership of the single market or customs union after Brexit, a move that has angered Tory Remainers.

  • Political Editor Robert Peston believes that Labour and the Conservatives' different positions on the customs union could leave Theresa May feeling "unstable".

Mr Corbyn insisted leaving the European Union does not mean Britain is inevitably doomed.

The reality of Brexit is "more down-to-earth" than the naysayers and the fervent supporters claim, according to the Labour leader.

Brexit secretary David Davis accused Corbyn of Credit: PA

"The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems," he said.

"Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country."

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Mr Davis said Labour's plans would stop the UK from signing free trade deals with other countries around the world.

He wrote: "The only way we can do this is if we have control over our own trade policy and are able to tailor agreements to our own needs, not those of 28 different countries. Being inside a customs union would make this impossible."