Jeremy Corbyn will commit a “serious evasion of duty” if he does not change course and back the UK retaining key aspects of the single market after Brexit, the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has said.
In a strongly worded attack, the peer signalled that Labour MPs should defy Corbyn if he repeats instructions to abstain in parliamentary votes on Britain staying in the European Economic Area (EEA).
Lord Kinnock was one of 83 Labour peers who rebelled against Corbyn and backed an amendment to Brexit legislation in the upper house for the UK to remain in the EEA – a grouping that allows for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European single market.
In a thinly veiled swipe at Corbyn, Kinnock said objections to EEA membership were based on “infantile leftist illusion”.
He said that if Corbyn did not alter his stance he would condemn the working people Labour was supposed to support to the “rockslide” of hard Brexit.
With the pro-EEA amendment to the EU withdrawal bill set to return to the Commons, Kinnock wrote in The Independent: “It would be a serious evasion of duty if Labour did not seize this chance to protect our country from the rockslide of ‘hard’ Brexit.
“By supporting continued EEA participation we can end the prime minister’s deference to the cliff-edge kamikaze squad and force her, or her successor, into the pragmatic patriotism of putting country before party.”