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Corbyn’s single market ideas incoherent

by Hugo Dixon | 08.09.2016

Jeremy Corbyn has as little comprehension of how the EU works as hardline Brexiteers in the Tory party. The Labour leader wants full access to the single market without abiding by its state aid rules. That’s as fanciful as full access to the market without accepting free movement – the fantasy promised by the Leave camp during the referendum. Perhaps even more so.

The leader of the opposition has never had much liking for the EU and campaigned in an extraordinarily lacklustre manner for membership during the referendum. Now he is displaying little interest in getting the best possible Brexit deal.

After some Labour MPs asked him to clarify his position, Corbyn put out a statement yesterday according to the Guardian saying he would be “pressing for full access to the European single market”. He then added: “There are directives and obligations linked to the single market, such as state aid rules and requirements to liberalise and privatise public services, which we would not want to see as part of a post-Brexit relationship.”

Has the Labour leader given any thought to whether this would be possible? Has he considered what would happen if Britain had full access to the single market but was free to subsidise its firms while other EU governments were restrained from doing so by the tough state aid rules? Has it occurred to him that this would give our companies an unfair competitive edge? And, if so, why on earth does he think the rest of the EU would be remotely interested in such an arrangement?

Either Corbyn is ignorant or he cares so little about getting a good deal for Britain that he can’t be bothered to put forward policies that have any hope of being accepted.