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Labour urges government to back customs union Brexit plan ahead of Brussels visit

LONDON (Reuters) – British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will on Tuesday urge the government to adopt his party’s Brexit plan for a permanent customs union with the European Union, ahead of a visit to Brussels.

With just six weeks until Britain is due to leave the bloc, Prime Minister Theresa May is yet to win ratification of British lawmakers for her Brexit deal.

She is now seeking amendments from the EU over plans to prevent border controls between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

Earlier this month EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said May should endorse a permanent customs union, as proposed by Labour, to break the impasse.

“Later this week I will travel to Brussels to discuss it with Michel Barnier and others. It’s a plan that could win the support of parliament and help bring the country together,” Corbyn will say in a speech to the EEF engineering trade body.

“It has been widely welcomed as a way of breaking the impasse. So I call on the government and MPs across parliament to end the Brexit uncertainty and back Labour’s credible alternative plan.”

May and her government have repeatedly said membership of a customs union would prevent it having an independent trade policy – something they have promoted as one of the main economic benefits of leaving the EU.

Parliament is deeply divided over the way forward on Brexit and lawmakers within both May’s Conservatives and Labour disagree with their party leaders’ plans. On Monday, seven Labour lawmakers quit Corbyn’s approach to Brexit.

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