LONDON May 12 A group of 16 opposition Labour
Party lawmakers seeking re-election in London said on Friday
Britain needed to remain a member of the European single market
after Brexit, contradicting the party's official position ahead
of a June 8 election.
Labour is trailing badly in opinion polls, with leader
Jeremy Corbyn criticised by some supporters for not opposing
Prime Minister Theresa May's EU exit strategy strongly enough,
and by others for not embracing Brexit more enthusiastically.
The party's official position is to seek to retain the
benefits of the single market in exit talks with Brussels, but
its Brexit spokesman has previously said that full membership is
incompatible with a need to tighten immigration rules.
However the 16 candidates from London, home to the country's
financial centre, said it was vital to remain in the single
market and the customs union which allow free trade in goods and
services with Europe's 27 other states.
"We are not 'Remoaners', and we do not underestimate the
challenge of connecting with the many Labour voters who
supported Brexit," the group, lead by the party's former
business spokesman Chuka Umunna, said in a pamphlet.
"But we want the best, most prosperous and most equal future
for our city and our country. Pointing out that there is a
better way is not moaning, and we cannot reach out to
communities that voted for Brexit by backing a policy that makes
The decision to campaign on a different platform from their
leader underscores deep divisions within Labour around Brexit
and Corbyn's decision to shift the party back towards its
socialist roots and away from the political centre ground.
Labour hold a majority of seats in London, including many
constituencies that voted strongly to reject Brexit. However,
many of the party's traditional strongholds are in working-class
areas outside the capital where voters backed leaving the EU.
(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)