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Labour’s customs union stance will help Wearside’s international traders and workers say MPs

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has laid out Labour policy on Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has laid out Labour policy on Brexit.

Labour’s approach to Brexit should be welcomed by businesses which trade with other countries, according to city MPs.

Washington and Sunderland South MP Sharon Hodgson and Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson have backed party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his call for a customs union with the European Union, once the UK leaves.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson.

Labour’s position could see members side with Conservative rebels and lead to Prime Minister Theresa May being defeated on one of her key Brexit points.

She has insisted the UK will leave both the single market and the customs market, allowing it to negotiate its own trade deals.

A customs union allows free-flowing trade between member nations, without the need for businesses to pay export taxes or tariffs, although members usually have a joint trade agreement with countries not in their union.

During his speech on the issue, Mr Corbyn said: “Labour would seek a final deal that gives full access to European markets and maintains the benefits of the single market and the customs union, as the Brexit Secretary David Davis promised in the House of Commons with no new impediments to trade and no new reduction in rights, standards and protections.”

I welcome this announcement because I have consistently argued that staying in the customs union will protect jobs in the North East, many of which depend upon our trade with the EU.

Bridge Phillipson

Mrs Hodgson, whose constituency covers the Nissan plant, said she was “pleased” Mr Corbyn had confirmed Labour’s stance.

She added: “This will be welcome news to businesses across the country concerned by the prospect of tariffs with Europe.

“The Government have been too busy in-fighting to listen to the concerns of the British public and instead have set the country on a path which by their own assessment will leave lasting damage on jobs, living standards and the British economy.”

Ms Phillipson added: “I welcome this announcement because I have consistently argued that staying in the customs union will protect jobs in the North East, many of which depend upon our trade with the EU.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South.

“It is now clear that Theresa May has no mandate for the reckless Tory Brexit that she envisages for this country.

“It’s also becoming increasingly evident that the Tories have no vision or agenda beyond implementing their dangerous version of Brexit.

“Let’s be clear: the UK is already facing huge problems, including unprecedented pressures on the NHS, rising inflation, a growing housing crisis and stagnant wage growth, to name but a few.

“Yet instead of tackling these issues, ministers are fixated on driving through policies that will cause even greater long-term damage to our community.”