Britain will have to do a deal to preserve trade access to the single market after Brexit, even if the EU insists on free movement of people, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.
In a major speech to be given in Peterborough today, Tuesday January 10, Mr Corbyn is expected to say the UK “can be better off” after quitting the European Union.
He will say that Labour is “not wedded” to the principle of freedom of movement.
Labour wants “fair rules and reasonably managed migration” in the settlement between the UK and EU but the country cannot afford to lose full access to the single market, the Opposition leader will say.
Mr Corbyn will be speaking to invited members of the party and the press from Paston Farm Centre in his first big speech after Christmas.
The speech will start at 3.30pm.
Speaking to ITV1’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Corbyn accused business leaders like Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley of “destroying” conditions for British workers by importing cheap migrant labour, and said his priority would be to end “undercutting and exploitation”.
Asked if he would accept continued free movement as the price of access to the single market, the Labour leader said: “If the EU, as is, says access to the single market requires the continuation of free movement, then there’s a choice to be made.
“I would say we have to end undercutting and exploitation. That would in turn probably affect numbers.
“But I would say economically we’ve got to be able to trade with Europe.”
He added: “There is a big economic decision that’s got to be made then.
“If we want to retain jobs in this country, if we want to retain the trading nature of our economy and the ability to export to Europe, then a deal has to be done with the EU in order to achieve that.”
EU leaders including German chancellor Angela Merkel have repeatedly said that free movement of EU citizens will remain a requirement for membership of the single market.