Jeremy Corbyn will come under increased pressure from right wing Labour politicians to back staying in the European single market following a speech on Monday.
The single market enforces austerity and privatisation. Corbyn announced Labour’s support for staying in a custom’s union with the EU, which allows free trade without tariffs between members.
His speech was welcomed by the bosses’ CBI, the Institute of Directors and trade union leaders.
Corbyn said a Labour government would negotiate a “strong relationship” with the single market, but with “exemptions” from rules that would stop it ending austerity.
Some Corbyn supporters hailed this as a clever move to unite Leave and Remain supporters behind Labour.
It sets up Labour MPs to collaborate with pro-EU Tories in parliament.
But right wing Labour politicians see it as a step towards backing single market membership—and eventually opposing Brexit itself.
Heidi Alexander MP said after Corbyn’s speech, “Staying in the single market is the next logical step.” And Chris Leslie MP tweeted, “Now let’s win argument on #SingleMarket.”
More than 80 Labour politicians signed a statement published the day before Corbyn’s speech, calling on him to drop his opposition to it.
It was coordinated by MPs who are leading members of Progress—a Labour faction closely associated with right wing former leader Tony Blair.
They support staying in the single market because they agree with its free market, pro-privatisation rules.
Yet they seek to give the single market a left wing gloss to harness the support of Labour members opposed to austerity.
The statement said, “If we want to fund our anti-austerity investment programme we can’t afford the multibillion pound hit to the public finances that leaving the single market would entail.”
To back this up, the statement quoted TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
She warned that leaving the single market would be “bad for jobs, bad for investment and bad for business”. Yet for well over a decade “good for business” has meant austerity and privatisation.
The rules of the EU and single market have been used to enforce anti-trade union laws and austerity.
Stopping austerity means higher taxes on the rich and the nationalisation of entire industries—things that single market rules prohibit.
Instead of edging ever closer to the big business position on Brexit and the EU, Labour should put forward an anti-austerity and anti-racist vision.
s, for example, defending and extending workers’ freedom of movement, opposition to any measure that restricts the right to nationalise industries or enforces austerity, and solidarity with workers across Europe and across the world.