back to top
Politics

Labour Splits Begin To Emerge As MPs Reiterate Their Support For The Single Market

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was "not feasible" to remain in the single market – but local Labour MPs have consistently disagreed.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Potential splits in Labour are beginning to emerge as MPs from the party reiterated their support for remaining in the single market, after the shadow chancellor said it backed exiting it.

At least three Labour MPs have reiterated their view to BuzzFeed News that they supported remaining in the single market and the customs union – despite shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying that doing so was "not feasible" in the wake of the EU referendum.

McDonnell, speaking to ITV, said the will of the British people in voting to leave the EU last year had to be respected, and that remaining part of the single market would not respect that.

But Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, told BuzzFeed News: "I have always supported Britain's continued membership of the single market and customs union along with changes to the how the free movement rules work."

Scottish MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray, who held on to his seat despite being targeted by the SNP, also told BuzzFeed News: "We should be seeking a solution that gives us full access to the single market and customs union."

And MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq, a staunch Remain campaigner, said she would not support a withdrawal as well.

"The UK's withdrawal from the single market would wreak untold damage upon the economy and the livelihoods of the people of Ealing Central and Acton," a spokesperson from the MP told BuzzFeed News. Huq campaigned on a platform to "oppose Brexit at all costs", the spokesperson said, so to endorse leaving any of these platforms would be "a profound betrayal" of her constituents.

MP Ruth Cadbury, shadow minister for housing, declined to comment again when contacted by BuzzFeed News, but a spokesperson directed us towards the following statement made in the run-up to the election: "The British people did not vote to leave the Single Market or the Customs Union."

It goes on to state that the upcoming Brexit negotiations need to be "focused on the best outcome for our citizens and businesses".

Meanwhile, The Guardian has reported that many newly elected or re-elected Labour politicians in the Midlands are concerned about moves to support staying in the single market – having campaigned on a decidedly pro-Brexit platform.

Some Midlands Lab MPs, (where Labour did actually lose some seats) nervous about single market talk. Promised voters no Brexit backslide.

Barry Gardiner, Labour's shadow international trade secretary, also appeared to muddy the waters earlier today, criticising the Conservatives for "taking membership of the single market off the table right from the beginning".

"What we've said is that we need those benefits, and whether they're achieved through reformed membership of the the single market and the customs union, or through a new, bespoke trading arrangement, is actually secondary to achieving the benefits," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

A split appears to be forming on the Tory side too. The Evening Standard, now edited by former Tory chancellor George Osborne, who has subjected Theresa May to intense criticism over her election campaign in TV studios over the last few days, ran a front page claiming pro-soft Brexit figures in the cabinet were plotting to prevent a hard Brexit.

Today's @EveningStandard exclusive on the Cabinet battle between the 'sensibles' & 'creationists' over soft Brexit… https://t.co/JqvBZZCwhl

Dubbed the "sensibles", ministers such as recently promoted Damian Green and chancellor Philip Hammond are reportedly sidelining May by reaching out to pro-Remain Labour MPs and their European counterparts. Conservative MPs such as Heidi Allen have also voiced their concern over the government's intentions, and stated publicly that the Tories would be best to work "across party lines on big issues".

Live Updates: Few Changes In Theresa May's Reshuffled Cabinet – But Michael Gove Returns

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.