Jeremy Corbyn rejects Nicola Sturgeon's single market plea

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Jeremy Corbyn rebuffed a call from Nicola Sturgeon for Labour to back the UK's continued membership of the European single market, saying Brexit meant the UK had to quit the EU trading bloc.

The Labour leader insisted that "the single market is dependent on membership of the EU" and remaining in the single market would not respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

The First minister accused Mr Corbyn of seeking to "mislead people" by persisting with "inaccurate" comments about the trading bloc.

Mr Corbyn faces a damaging Commons rebellion when the issue of single market membership is put to MPs as an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

"I don't quite understand why she would keep saying, 'join the single market' when leaving the EU means you leave the single market," the Labour leader said in response to Ms Sturgeon's appeal.

READ MORE: Senior Scottish Tory warns Brexit row could end up in court

He told ITV's Peston on Sunday programme: "Do we have a trading relationship with Europe which is tariff free, which is based on access to that market, and access of Europe to our market? Yes. Do we push for that in the negotiations? Yes. Is that what we have said to the European Union in opposition? Yes.

"You have to make a special relationship with the European Union."

The Labour leader cited EU state aid rules as another reason why he wanted to be outside the single market, despite conceding that Brussels would not stand in the way of Labour implementing its manifesto.

"There are also aspects of the single market one wants to think about such as the restrictions on state aid to industry, which is something that I would wish to challenge," Mr Corbyn said.

Earlier, the First Minister told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme that there was "a real window of opportunity" to force the government into staying in the single market.

On Monday, the Scottish Government will publish analysis which Ms Sturgeon said would show that remaining a member of the trading bloc would be the least damaging option for the UK's economy.

"I believe there is a majority in the House of Commons for remaining in the Single Market if Labour gets its act together," she said.

"Jeremy Corbyn has to decide where he stands on all this. I think most of his supporters will be deeply disappointed that he appears to be only slightly less in favour of a harder, and perhaps the hardest possible Brexit than the Tories are, and many will find that completely inexplicable."

Responding to Mr Corbyn's interview, she later tweeted: "Saying this once could be a simple mistake. Continuing to say it when you know it is inaccurate can only be an attempt to mislead people. On single market, why does Corbyn insist on being so out of touch with both the views of his own supporters and the best interests of economy?"

Asked whether she accepted that Scotland would leave the EU, Ms Sturgeon said: "I still hope there is an alternative to that." She said that enough would be known about the terms of the UK's exit from the EU by the autumn for her to make a recommendation to the Scottish Parliament on whether to hold a second referendum on independence.

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