Campaigners say they are hopeful of a shift in Labour’s Brexit position after Jeremy Corbyn appeared to lend his support to politicians who want the UK to stay in the single market and customs union.
Andrew Adonis said he was “extremely pleased” to see the Labour leader back a campaign by North East MEPs to ensure no jobs are lost in the region as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU, as well as other “red lines” on investment, rights and safety.
Brussels-based Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen say the only way to ensure the stability of the North East - which is expected to be hit the hardest by Brexit - is for the UK to remain part of the single market and customs union.
Corbyn - who said Labour would commit to keeping the UK in some form of customs union with the EU post-March 2019 - backed their jobs pledge last week.
Adonis, who is a leading supporter of the Best For Britain campaign to keep EU membership an open possibility, said he hoped the move was an early indication of a further softening of the party’s Brexit stance.
He told HuffPost UK: “I am extremely pleased that Jeremy Corbyn has committed Labour to campaigning against any and all Brexit job losses.
“The truth is that the only way to avoid jobs being lost - particularly in the North East - is by standing up for the deal we have now and voting against this Tory austerity Brexit deal.
“I have always said that Jeremy is on a journey when it comes to Brexit, and that he will eventually do the right thing and call for the people to have the final say.
“With this latest commitment he moves one further step in the right direction.”
But a spokesperson for Corbyn said he remained committed to the position set out in his crunch Brexit speech in Coventry last month.
In it, the Islington MP said party policy did not support single market membership - despite a large number of his own MPs actively campaigning for it - which includes the free movement of people from the EU.
And while Labour does not currently back holding a referendum on the eventual deal, Corbyn said it remains “open” to the idea.
Adonis, who is openly calling for a second referendum and believes the country could be persuaded to “change its mind” on Brexit, has accused the government of “trashing the national interest”.
He resigned his position as a senior infrastructure adviser at the start of the year in protest against Theresa May’s handling of the issue.