Labour has announced its backing for a plan which would mean free movement of people between Britain and the EU continues after Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to support the Common Market 2.0, or Norway-plus, plan in a second round of so-called ‘indicative votes’ on Brexit on Monday breaches Labour’s 2017 election manifesto promise that “freedom of movement will end” after the UK exits the bloc.
Even the plan’s backers admit free movement would continue, with the chance to impose limited extra controls, despite the Leave campaign’s focus on “taking back control” of immigration.
It would also see continuing membership of the single market and customs union, meaning trade would continue freely much as it does now, and solving the vexed issue of the Irish border backstop.
However, Corbyn’s decision sparked an immediate backlash from senior Labour MP Sir Kevin Barron, who said he would rebel to vote against the plan.
He tweeted: “Small reminder of the manifesto that all Labour MPs were elected on in 2017. Clearly states that we will end freedom of movement when we leave the EU.
“This is not compatible with supporting Common Market 2.0, I will be voting against.”
The party will also support calls for a second referendum and a customs union in votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s troubled deal.
A Labour spokesperson said: “In line with our policy, we’re supporting motions to keep options on the table to prevent a damaging Tory deal or no-deal, build consensus across the House to break the deadlock and deliver an outcome that can work for the whole country.”
The customs union plan had appeared to be the frontrunner for after MPs failed to agree a single alternative plan in the first round of indicative votes last week.
But after the SNP’s 35 MPs also decided to back the Common Market 2.0 plan, championed by Tories Nick Boles and Robert Halfon, as well as Labour’s Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell, its chances of success have been boosted.
In the first round, the Common Market 2.0 plan was defeated by 283 votes to 188, majority 95, while the customs union plan put forward by Ken Clarke was defeated by just six votes.
Following Labour’s announcement, Boles tweeted: “Very good to see Labour giving its official support for Common Market 2.0.
“It comes closer to Labour’s stated policy than any other Brexit compromise and now has a real chance of winning the majority that has eluded the PM.”