Jeremy Corbyn's customs union plan 'impossible to deliver'
26 February 2018, 15:15
Jeremy Corbyn's pledge to keep Britain in a permanent customs union with the EU has been branded Blairist spin "at its best" by a senior MP from his own party.
In a speech in Coventry on Monday, the Labour leader sought to reboot Labour's Brexit policy by backing a customs union to ensure no trade tariffs were imposed with Europe and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.
But Brexiteer Frank Field accused him of setting out demands that "the whole country would vote for because he knows it's impossible to deliver".
He said the EU would never accept the proposal, declaring: "It is not deliverable."
Mr Field is one of the few Brexiteer Labour MPs, whose lack of support for an amendment to the Trade Bill could help scupper a Government defeat.
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Mr Field suggested Mr Corbyn's announcement was worthy of "a mound of beans".
He told Sky News: "It's a brilliant speech, it's Blairism at its best.
"He's led you all up the garden path at the weekend and he's now set out demands that the whole country would vote for because he knows it's impossible to deliver," he said.
"If we could get this sort of agreement there would have been no referendum, no argy-bargy that's going on. But it' a brilliant piece of PR."
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He added: "I think it's great news and Mr Blair at his peak could never have done a better spin than what Jeremy has done."
It came as Mr Corbyn denied he was undermining negotiations between Brussels and Downing Street, including by holding discussions with chief Brexit negotiator.
He told Sky News: "Michel Barnier is a very smart, very intelligent man and it would be a bit unwise of him not to be aware of the political circumstances surrounding the people he's negotiating with.
"On his last visit to Britain he met me, he met our team, he met many other people because he wanted to be aware of what the political process and atmosphere was of people in Britain."
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Earlier, Labour's shadow international trade secretary said Labour could not be undermining Downing Street because "the Government has no position to undermine".
But Tory Cabinet Office minister David Lidington hit back, saying he "couldn't find a coherent theme" to the vision in Mr Corbyn's speech.
Mr Lidington made the comments as he delivered speech four of six of a Government PR blitz on Brexit.
Monday's address was on devolution after Brexit and saw the PM's de facto deputy say leaving the EU was no excuse for "breaking up the UK".
He also said powers repatriated after Brexit would go to Westminster over the devolved assemblies when the Government needed to protect the UK common market or a "pause" was needed to "put a national framework in place".
(c) Sky News 2018: Jeremy Corbyn's customs union plan 'impossible to deliver'