Sadiq Khan on Thursday called for a debate on Britain rejoining the single market and customs union as he warned that “Brexit isn’t working”.
Mr Khan, the Labor Mayor of London, went against the policy of the national party to advocate a return to closer economic ties with the European Union.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labor leader has ruled out rejoining the single market if his party wins the next election, and last week appropriated a Vote Leave campaign slogan by promising to unveil a “Take Back Control Bill”.
In a speech to business leaders at Mansion House, Mr Khan said: “I simply can’t keep quiet about the immense damage Brexit is doing.
Ministers seem to have developed selective amnesia when it comes to one of the root causes of our problems. Brexit can’t be airbrushed out of history or the consequences wished away.”
Mr Khan suggested Britain’s economic difficulties were not “beyond reform” and could be eased by “a shift from this extreme, hard Brexit”, saying: “We need greater alignment with our European neighbors.”
He added: “That includes having a pragmatic debate about the benefits of being a part of the customs union and the single market.”
Detrimental effects when we can least afford it’
The Mayor acknowledged that “no one wants to see a return to the division and deadlock” of the years between the British public voting to leave the EU and Brexit finally happening on Jan 31, 2020, but stressed that Brexit had had detrimental effects “at a time when we can least afford it.”
Sir Keir last year pledged to “make Brexit work” without reopening negotiations on the UK’s trade deal.
Instead, Labor has said it would negotiate a new security pact with Brussels and implement measures that it says would ease tensions created by checks required by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Asked about Mr Khan’s comments by reporters, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “Our position has not changed. The British people set out their view back in 2016, and the Government is busy enacting, particularly focusing on the benefits of Brexit with the Rule Bill among other things.”
Last week, polling for Opinium showed that Conservative voters are losing faith in the benefits of Brexitwith many now believing that the costs outweigh the benefits.