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Type of free movement could be included in Brexit deal, says Chakrabarti

The shadow attorney general also says Labour would prioritise the economy over immigration if it was in charge of withdrawal talks.

Some form of free movement of people could be included in a Brexit deal, a senior Labour shadow cabinet member has indicated.

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti insisted Labour would prioritise the economy over immigration if it was in charge of withdrawal talks.

Though Labour pledged to end free movement in its manifesto, Ms Chakrabarti suggested arrangements under a different name could allow access to the single market.

She told Sky News: “We haven’t said we’ll have control of free movement of people, you can’t necessarily have complete control, but what we want is to be able to have fair migration that avoids people’s jobs being undercut.”

Ms Chakrabarti insisted Labour could negotiate a new arrangement allowing the UK access to the single market.

“It may not be called staying in the free market and having free movement, it may be called something else but what it’s called doesn’t matter, what’s important is that jobs come first, the economy comes first and that means getting tariff-free access to the single market and the formalities we will negotiate.”

Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said his party wanted Brexit to work for jobs and growth, but did not confirm Labour’s position on membership of the single market – saying they were not “wedded to any particular institutional framework”.

Mr Trickett told BBC One’s Sunday Politics programme: “We are taking the deal that we need to have access to all of the tariff-free arrangements which exist within the customs union and the single market.”

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Labour's Jon Trickett says the UK needs a Brexit "which works for jobs and for growth" (Yui Mok/PA)

He said: “We’re not going to say that we have to do one thing or other in terms of institutional relationships.

“What we have to have is a Brexit which works for jobs and for growth and also for the protections which working people have.

“How that comes out in the negotiations remains to be seen.”

Asked whether it was Labour’s policy to remain in the single market, Mr Trickett said: “Our policy is to secure all of the rights which exist and tariff-free access within the single market and the customs union.

“We are not saying that their particular institutional form is something we’re going to wed ourselves to at this stage, but let’s see where the negotiations go.”

Mr Trickett’s comments come after 50 Labour politicians wrote to Jeremy Corbyn calling on him to fight “unambiguously for membership of the single market” in the Brexit negotiations.

Chuka Umunna, David Lammy and Liz Kendall were among MPs behind the letter, published by the Guardian on Tuesday, which urges Mr Corbyn to “strongly oppose” Theresa May’s decision to take single market membership “off the table” in the discussion.

It states: “An ambitious and confident alternative government – with Corbyn at the helm – should not throw in the towel as May has done, but could seek membership with reforms on immigration and the other matters we seek.”

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