Labour’s call for a customs union goes against the “will of the British people” and the decision to leave the UK, according to the MEP who represents the North East.
Hartlepool-based Jonathan Arnott, a former UKIP member who is now independent, has said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not backed the outcome of the 2016 referendum to leave the EU by saying Britain should have a customs union once ties are severed.
Labour’s position could see members side with Conservative rebels and lead to Prime Minister Theresa May being defeated on one of her key Brexit points.
She has insisted the UK will leave both the single market and the customs market, allowing it to negotiate its own trade deals.
A customs union allows free-flowing trade between member nations, without businesses paying export taxes or tariffs, although members usually have joint trade agreement with countries not in their union.
During his speech on the issue, Mr Corbyn said: “Labour would seek a final deal that gives full access to European markets and maintains the benefits of the single market and the customs union, as the Brexit Secretary David Davis promised in the House of Commons with no new impediments to trade and no new reduction in rights, standards and protections.”
They do not support the referendum result, in which more people voted leave than have ever voted for anything in British political history.Jonathan Arnott
On immigration, he said free movement would end as a “statement of fact” after Brexit and committed to the “reasonable management of migration”.
Mr Arnott, who left UKIP last month over concerns of its leadership and stance on religious and cultural issues, said: “The big question about Jeremy Corbyn’s speech was whether it will make it easier, or harder, for the UK to negotiate a good deal with the European Union.
“He’s just answered that question: it’ll be harder.
“When people voted to leave the European Union, we voted to take back control over our finances, our laws, our courts, our borders and our right to sign trade deals with other nations.
“Jeremy Corbyn betrays Jeremy Corbyn, betrays Brexit, and betrays you.
“Whatever weasel words they use, substituting ‘the’ for ‘a’, today is the day that Labour make clear they do not support the will of the British people.
“They do not support the referendum result, in which more people voted leave than have ever voted for anything in British political history.
“They do not support their own General Election Manifesto, to which scores of Labour MPs owe their seats.”