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Jeremy Corbyn vows to ‘protect jobs and living standards’ in EU meeting

Press Association logoPress Association 13/07/2017 By PA Reporters
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(Video provided by Sky News)

Jeremy Corbyn promised to fight for a Brexit settlement to protect jobs and living standards as he arrived for talks in Brussels with the EU’s chief negotiator.

The Labour leader and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer were meeting Michel Barnier for the first time, although the EU official has stressed he will negotiate only with the UK Government.

(Olivier Hoslet/AP/PA) © Provided by The Press Association (Olivier Hoslet/AP/PA)

Arriving at the European Commission headquarters, Berlaymont, Mr Corbyn said he was representing 13 million people who voted Labour at last month’s election.

“These are crucial negotiations for our country,” he said. “We are here to ensure that we protect jobs and living standards and to try to discover exactly what the views of the EU are on the whole process.”

The meeting came as Labour set out six conditions for its support for the Government’s Repeal Bill, published in Westminster.

Sir Keir said Labour would not support the Bill in its current form and demanded concessions on workers’ rights, incorporation of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law, and limiting the scope of so-called “Henry VIII powers” which could allow the Government to alter legislation without full parliamentary scrutiny.

He told the Guardian: “We have very serious issues with the Government’s approach, and unless the Government addresses those issues, we will not be supporting the Bill.”

EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans (right) with Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer at EU HQ (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA)) © Provided by The Press Association EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans (right) with Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer at EU HQ (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA))

Speaking before the Brussels visit, Mr Corbyn said Labour is “a government in waiting” which is “ready to take up the responsibility for Brexit negotiations”.

He added: “In contrast to the Conservatives’ megaphone diplomacy, we will conduct relations with our European neighbours respectfully and in the spirit of friendship.”

On the key issues on the table in withdrawal talks, Mr Corbyn – who was also accompanied in Brussels by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott – said: “Labour would negotiate a jobs-first Brexit deal which puts the economy, jobs and living standards front and centre.

“Labour would unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK because it’s the right thing to do.

EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans welcomes Jeremy Corbyn to EU HQ (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA)) © Provided by The Press Association EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans welcomes Jeremy Corbyn to EU HQ (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, pool/PA))

“Labour wants to work with other countries to build a different Europe, one which promotes human rights and environmental protections, celebrates the positive and complementary contributions of European nations, and where trade is fair and sustainable.”

Arsenal fan Mr Corbyn took a team shirt as a gift for Mr Barnier.

Mr Corbyn was also due to meet European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and the head of three UK representation in Brussels, as well as representatives of European Socialist parties.

Earlier in the day, Mr Barnier held talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and he was later due to meet Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones.

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