Labour’s new position on Brexit, to be articulated in a speech this morning by Jeremy Corbyn, is “snake oil” that would put one of the greatest prizes of leaving the EU out of reach, said Brexit Secretary David Davis.
Writing in the Telegraph, he condemned Corbyn’s policy of negotiating a “bespoke” customs union with the EU. “Labour may think they have stumbled across a simple solution to Brexit, but there is a lesson they are yet to learn: If it looks like snake oil, and it smells like snake oil, don’t expect it to make you feel better,” wrote Davis.
“[It] would prevent us from signing economy-boosting, job-creating free-trade deals with other countries around the world. This is one of the central prizes of Brexit,” he wrote.
Defending the policy on BBC Radio 4’s Today Program, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said it would reassure businesses worried about uncertainty.
“Businesses have been demanding for months now — just give us clarity we need to get our supply chains in order,” he said.
Gardiner described the policy as “a customs union between the EU and the U.K. where we together decide those third party countries where we have tariffs and quotas,” and said it was “absolutely not” another form of having cake and eating it.
Asked why Labour was not backing single market membership — something that many businesses are demanding too — Gardiner said Labour had decided it was inconsistent with the referendum vote to take back control of laws, money and immigration. “The British people clearly voted against what is the project of ever closer union,” he said.
Also speaking to BBC, Energy Minister Claire Perry said: “We in the government know that we have to deliver … a sensible Brexit.”
“We cannot be in the customs union and secure the trade deals that we need,” she added. “While we get on with Brexit, Labour can do its Brexit Hokey Cokey, whatever they think they need to do today. It lets down the people who voted for them, it lets down the majority of the people who voted for Brexit.”