- New stance would make it impossible for Britain to make its own trade deals
- Move could pave the way for an alliance between Labour and Tory remainers
- Corbyn lifelong Eurosceptic but under pressure unions and Labour members
- Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry wants to avoid ‘lorry parks at Dover’
Labour was on the brink of a major Brexit U-turn last night after senior figures said the party wants to stay in an EU customs union.
Jeremy Corbyn will risk accusations of betrayal when he outlines the policy on Monday in a shift aides claim will be ‘seismic’.
Senior Labour figures said the party’s new stance would include forming a customs union with the EU, even though it would make it impossible for Britain to strike independent trade deals.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is prepared to put aside his lifelong Euroscepticism to soften his stance on being part of the customs union
The move could pave the way for a Commons alliance between Labour and Tory Remainers. Strategists believe inflicting a defeat on Theresa May over the issue could even bring down her Government and force an early election.
Government sources yesterday confirmed key votes on the issue have been delayed until after Easter. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour could even end up backing a second referendum.
He and Mr Corbyn are lifelong Eurosceptics, but have come under intense pressure from their union paymasters and party members to soften their stance.
A customs union enables countries to trade freely without tariffs or customs checks. But it also requires members to adopt common tariffs and trading positions with the rest of the world.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Labour wanted to form a new deal that would ‘look pretty much the same as the customs union we are in now’.
She told LBC Radio it was the only way to resolve the Northern Ireland border issue and avoid ‘lorry parks at Dover’, adding: ‘We cannot see how anything else can work.’
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said being part of customs union was only way to solve Irish border issue and avoid ‘lorry parks at Dover’
But she acknowledged it would mean Britain could only strike new trade deals with major markets like the US ‘in partnership’ with the EU.
It comes despite shadow international development secretary Barry Gardiner warning last year that such a move would be ‘a disaster’.
Pro-Brexit Labour MP Frank Field last night said it risked betraying the millions of party supporters who voted to leave the EU in 2016. Tory Remainer Anna Soubry welcomed the apparent shift, saying it would be ‘in the national interest’.
Earlier, Mr McDonnell said Labour policy on Brexit was ‘evolving’, adding: ‘Our position is yes, we want to see on the table “a” customs union negotiation, not “the” customs union.’
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘A lot of Labour’s heartland areas voted very heavily to leave – I think Labour will ignore them at their peril.’