U.K. Labour’s Corbyn Looks to Norway for Lessons on Brexit
(Bloomberg) -- Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K. opposition Labour Party, said Norway offers Britain lessons as it prepares to leave the European Union.
Corbyn said in a Bloomberg Television interview he’s sending his foreign-affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry to Oslo to examine how officials there manage relations with the EU. Norway is in the European Economic Area, giving it access to the EU’s single market, but not in the EU itself.
“We’re looking very closely at the Norwegian model,” Corbyn said Thursday in London. “Not using their model, it’s learning the lessons from Norway. Maybe we can learn a lot from Norway.”
Corbyn, who has been criticized for lackluster campaigning in the EU referendum, said he wants to secure access to the European single market while withdrawing from regulations limiting state aid for companies. He said his party might oppose the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will set in motion the process for leaving, if he is not happy with Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating plans.
“We would reserve our right to oppose,” he said. “Not that we don’t respect the result of the referendum, obviously we do, but I want to set out those lines: that we maintain market access and rights and membership of the European Investment Bank. These things are all actually quite possible.”
Corbyn, who wants to re-nationalize the railways and favors state intervention in failing companies, aims to ensure the British government will be free to take action.
“The state-aid rules have been used by this government often as a defensive mechanism for their own policy making while other governments such as France, Germany and Italy have not felt constrained,” Corbyn said. “In our relationship with the European market in whatever form it is, we need to make sure we’re not signing up to something that constrains governments in the future. We need the right to intervene.”
May’s government has a “mean-spirited vision” of Britain after it leaves the EU, Corbyn said, while his party has “a thirst for doing politics in a very different way.”
He called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to reverse planned cuts to infrastructure spending to boost economic growth. Government should be investing at a time of low capital costs, Corbyn said earlier, in a speech on economic policy at Bloomberg’s European headquarters. After the vote to leave the European Union, there must be an open national debate on Britain’s economic future, he said.
“It simply beggars belief that any responsible government is seeking to cut investment,” he said. “We now have to set out the best possible future for our country after the leave vote.”
Hammond will outline his spending plans when he announces his Autumn Statement on Nov. 23. Speaking to lawmakers last week, he played down the prospect of a significant fiscal boost, while signaling a readiness to ease the austerity of his predecessor, George Osborne.
Corbyn, who saw many of his leading spokesmen and women resign after the referendum in protest at his failure to campaign more forcefully, said he will reunite his party if he remains in charge after a leadership contest that will conclude on Sept. 24.
“I’m very confident that as a party we are coming together,” he said. “I’m having discussions with a number of colleagues and there will be a full team in place.”