JACK DOYLE: Jeremy Corbyn’s double talk


What he said: ‘Our message has been consistent since the vote to leave. We respect the result of the referendum.’

What he meant: ‘After months of confusion we’ve made up our minds, sort of.’

Since the referendum in June 2016, Labour’s Brexit policy has been all over the place. By one estimate they’ve changed positions nearly 20 times. 

He’s tried to appeal to Remainers in London and Leavers in the Midlands and the North. He points to Tory divisions and claims Labour is united. But it is split between hard-core Remainers like Chuka Umunna and the Eurosceptic hard Left.


What he said: ‘We have long argued that a customs union is… viable for the final deal.’

What he meant: ‘We’re performing a screeching U-turn, but pretending otherwise.’

Six months ago international trade spokesman Barry Gardiner said it would be a ‘disaster’ to agree a post-Brexit customs union with the EU.

Mr Corbyn – a lifelong Eurosceptic – has changed his spots for cynical political reasons.

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has tried to appeal to Remainers in London and Leavers in the Midlands and the North


What he said: ‘A new customs arrangement would depend on Britain being able to negotiate agreement of new trade deals in our national interest.’

What he meant: ‘We want to have our cake and eat it.’

Any customs union between the UK and the EU would force the UK to accept EU tariffs on imports from outside the EU. It would be the end of any independent trade policy, with deals negotiated by Brussels.

Boris Johnson says Britain would become an EU ‘colony’.


What he said: ‘Labour is implacably opposed to our NHS or other public services being part of any trade deal with Trump’s America or a revived Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership-style deal with the EU, which would open the door to a flood of further privatisations.

What he meant: ‘We love the NHS.’ But Mr Corbyn’s customs deal would cut ministers’ power to set trade policy, making it more likely that the NHS would be part of a trade deal with the US or other nations.


What he said: ‘In our transport networks, energy markets and digital infrastructure, too often Britain lags behind. 

We would seek to negotiate protections, clarifications or exemptions… in relation to privatisation and public-service competition directives, state aid and procurement rules and the posted workers directive.’

What he meant: ‘We want to hurl vast subsidies at nationalised industries.’

To do so, he needs an exemption from EU rules that prevent ‘state aid’. Labour intends to borrow around £500billion to ‘invest’ – code for huge bungs to favoured industries,


What he said: ‘Labour would design our immigration policy around the needs of the economy based on fair rules and the reasonable management of migration. 

We would not do what this Government is doing, start from rigid red lines on immigration and then work out what that means for the economy afterwards.’

What he meant: ‘I have no intention of reducing immigration.’ He said the Government’s immigration target to cut net numbers to the tens of thousands was ‘bogus’. 

The new line saying Labour has ‘no red lines’ on immigration suggests he might trade away immigration controls, even though that’s why millions of Labour voters backed Brexit.

Any customs union between the UK and the EU would force the UK to accept EU tariffs on imports from outside the EU

Any customs union between the UK and the EU would force the UK to accept EU tariffs on imports from outside the EU


What he said: ‘It is not migrants that drive down wages, it is bad employers that cut pay and bad governments that allow workers to be divided and undermined, and want unions to be weak. 

To stop employers being able to import cheap labour to undercut pay and conditions, collective agreements and sectoral bargaining must be the norm.’

What he meant: All power to the unions. He refuses to restrict numbers – but government economists point to evidence that mass migration has suppressed wages, particularly among the low-skilled. Instead, he will hand huge power to unions barons to negotiate pay rates across industries.


What he said: ‘I appeal to MPs of all parties prepared to put the people’s interests before ideological fantasies, to join us in supporting… a new UK customs union with the EU that would give us a say in future trade deals. 

Labour respects the result of the referendum and Britain is leaving the EU. But we will not support any Tory deal that would do lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards.’

What he meant: I will do and say anything to bring down the Government and get into power. This sentence reveals the real reason for his speech: A cynical bid to win support from Tory Remainers and force a General Election. 

By backing a customs union, Labour opens up a potential alliance with rebel Tories. So despite a lifetime of Euroscepticism, Mr Corbyn is softening his position because it could take him a step closer to No10.


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