Sir Keir Starmer says Labour "flexible" on future access to single market and advocates Brexit transition period

Alys Key
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Starmer said Labour was "flexible" over future arrangements with the single market (Source: Getty)

Labour has changed its stance on a transition period after Brexit, supporting membership of the single market and customs union for up to five years after the UK leaves the EU.

Writing in the Observer, the party's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said that Labour would aim to deliver "maximum certainty and stability" by remaining inside the customs union and single market during any transitional period.

Read more: Davis demands more flexibility from Brussels as UK heads to fresh talks

He said:

Given that UK-EU combined import/export trade totalled £553bn last year, this certainty would be hugely advantageous for British businesses and consumers. This arrangement would also safeguard the important social protections and rights that come from being within the single market.

His comments come in opposition to those made by Philip Hammond and Liam Fox when the pair finally agreed on a transition period after Brexit earlier this month, but ruled out remaining in either the single market or customs union during this time.

Starmer went on to say that Labour was now "flexible" over whether to negotiate a new relationship with the single market, indicating that it might be willing to maintain some form of access to the system.

The mission statement comes as a stark contrast to the party's previous stance, which led to three front bench MPs being sacked after they voted for an amendment calling for the UK to remain in the single market. Last month leader Jeremy Corbyn was facing increasing opposition from his own over his single market edict.

Read more: Britons increasingly see the Single Market as a Brexit priority