Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

PMQs: Corbyn’s confusion over the single market

Jeremy Corbyn’s attack line on Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions today might have been more effective had the Labour leader not appeared confused about what he was asking. He had no option but to talk about Brexit, something he has tried to avoid in his year and a half in the job because of his own ambivalence over Europe and his disagreements with his party about what is particularly bad about the European Union. May teased the Labour leader about his apparent confusion yesterday over whether membership of the single market was the same as access to the single market, telling him that ‘I’ve got a plan, he doesn’t have a clue’.

He had a good (if painful) line about the Prime Minister snubbing Parliament, complaining that she was ‘restoring parliamentary democracy while snubbing Parliament. It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the Irony Lady’. Though it was nice to hear a politician who normally doesn’t seem that bothered by the efficacy of the Chamber of the House of Commons complaining about the Prime Minister not unveiling her plans to the House first, it is perhaps not all that helpful to repeat the compliment of ‘Iron Lady’.

Corbyn then appeared to repeat his confusion over the single market:

‘The chancellor said after the referendum that to lose single market access would be “catastrophic”, a few days later the health secretary said that the first part of the plan must be clarity that we will remain in the single market. The Prime Minister said something about frictionless access to the market and a bespoke customs union deal. Could the Prime Minister give us a bit of certainty and clarity about this? Has she ruled out paying any kind of access fee to achieve access to what she describes as a frictionless market?’

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