JEREMY CORBYN laid into the government yesterday over its lack of progress on Brexit negotiations during the 16 months since the EU referendum.
The Labour leader’s comments in the Commons followed PM Theresa May’s speech in which she claimed that steps forward had been made in the Brexit negotiations in “reaching agreement on reciprocal healthcare and pensions” and “encouraging further alignment on a range of important social security rights.”
Mr Corbyn said that her speech was “designed to herald a breakthrough” but, along with the arguing among her ministers over Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, it “only confirmed the confusion at the heart of government.”
There was also confusion over the future arrangements around the single market and freedom of movement, he said. “Just at the moment when Britain needs a strong negotiating team, we have a Cabinet at each other’s throats,” Mr Corbyn continued.
“Half of the Conservative Party want the Foreign Secretary sacked, the other half want the Chancellor sacked.” Labour MPs shouted out that they wanted both of them sacked.
Ms May had outlined 12 objectives for Brexit in January but not one has been met, he added, and that her speech in Florence last month “demonstrated the scale of the mess.”
He went on: “What on Earth has the government been doing all this time? The Prime Minister was calling an election in which voters refused to give her the mandate she wanted and ministers have been squabbling throughout … the reality is beginning to bite.”
He called on her to clarify what the transitional period of withdrawing from the trading bloc would look like and how long it would last. Mr Corbyn also demanded that she unilaterally agree the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, emphasising that people were visiting constituency surgeries afraid that their families would be torn apart.
Ms May stated that Britain would continue on “current terms” with the EU but also seek to leave the customs union and single market.
But “it can’t be both,” Mr Corbyn said.
Ms May said Britain would leave the single market and customs union in March 2019, when freedom of movement would also end. On the Exit Bill, Ms May claimed that Britain would continue working with the EU to “promote the long-term economic development of our continent.” firstname.lastname@example.org