Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has offered to back British Prime Minister Theresa May’s embattled Brexit deal if she agrees to changes to her “negotiating red lines,” including joining a customs union.
In a letter to May released on Wednesday evening, Corbyn laid out five legally-binding commitments he is seeking from her in exchange for his party’s support, including creating “a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union.”
“We believe that a customs union is necessary to deliver the frictionless trade that our businesses, workers and consumers need, and is the only viable way to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland,” Corbyn wrote.
Corbyn, who held private talks with May last week for the first time since her deal was resoundingly rejected in parliament in January, also asked for a “close alignment with the single market” and a “dynamic alignment on rights and protections.”
British lawmakers remain deadlocked over Brexit, especially over a “backstop” provision in the withdrawal agreement to keep open the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in case Britain and the EU cannot agree on a long-term trade deal.
In his letter, Corbyn asked May to “change its negotiating red lines and seek significant changes to the Political Declaration,” adding that “close economic relationship” would “make it far less likely that any backstop arrangements would ever be needed.”
Corbyn’s offer, which outlines a post-Brexit Britain much more aligned with Europe than in May’s withdrawal plan, is still likely to upset Labour backbenchers hoping for a second referendum on Brexit.