Jeremy Corbyn demands new EU customs union to avoid ‘nightmare’ UK-US trade deal brexit | Politics | News – UK

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But in the same speech, delivered in Birmingham and entitled “Build It In Britain”, the Labour leader appeared to take a leaf out of the US President’s book by suggesting he would be ready to adopt a protectionist approach to the economy if he becomes Prime Minister.

Mr Corbyn said the way to help exporters was to strike a deal allowing full, tariff-free access to the bloc, stressing that the customs union plan was a matter of “practical common sense”.

He told the Engineering Employers Federation: “A botched Tory Brexit will sell our manufacturers short with the fantasy of a free trading buccaneering future, which in reality would be a nightmare of chlorinated chicken, public services sold to multinational companies and our country in hock to Donald Trump.

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“Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought – a more competitive pound.

“But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative government industrial plan which has left our economy far too reliant on imports.”

In words which echoed some of Mr Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, Mr Corbyn also criticised the Government for “farming out” contracts to foreign companies rather than backing British industry, saying: “Between 2014 and 2017, Network Rail awarded contracts worth tens of millions of pounds to companies outside of the UK, while the NHS awarded contracts worth over a billion.

“In the same period, the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts elsewhere worth over £1.5bn pounds, even though we are under no obligation, under either European or international law, to open up defence contracts to overseas bidders.”

And in a swipe at City, he appeared to put the blame for the decline in Britain’s manufacturing base at the door of financiers, adding: “We’ve been told that it’s good for our country to manufacture less and to rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports while we focus on the City of London and the financial sector.

“The rise of finance is linked to the demise of industry.

“We will use the state to actively intervene in the economy.

“Labour will reprogram our economy so that it works for the people of Britain and not against them.

“And we will build this economy, this future fair for all, right here in Britain.”

Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Protectionism, it seems, is back in fashion. 

“For all the criticism of America’s current approach to trade in this speech, the proposals of subsidies and ‘buying British’ are just as protectionist as tariffs.

“Britain has many fantastic manufacturing firms, but the fetishisation of factories and production lines over all other parts of the economy is misguided.”

Conservative Robert Jenrick, a minister at the finance department, said MR Corbyn’s words were “laughable coming from the Labour Party who oversaw millions of jobs lost and a record decline in manufacturing”.

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