JEREMY Corbyn chose Coventry to outline his long-awaited Brexit strategy to the nation this week.
He claimed it would support jobs, students and innovation in the city, as he addressed an audience at Coventry University on Monday.
The Labour Party leader selected one of the UK’s traditional industrial heartlands – and the UK City of Culture 2021 – to announce his party’s strategy would see the UK remain in the customs union.
It would mean tariff-free access to European Union (EU) markets – in what he called a “jobs-first” strategy.
He was speaking at the National Transport Design Centre to supporters, students and a large representation from the UK’s press and broadcasters.
Mr Corbyn claimed his Labour Party will be ‘high-tech’ and would boost the innovation of ‘sustainable industries’ the university supports.
He said: “It’s great to be speaking here in Coventry, which has long been at the core of Britain’s industrial heartland and is now set to be our next City of Culture.”
Mr Corbyn added: “Yes, Coventry is a manufacturing centre, it is a research centre and it is part of the West Midland’s industrial strength and clearly that relies very heavily on trade with Europe.
“And this university relies on overseas students and we want to make sure universities can continue recruiting large numbers of overseas students.
“The university’s research is ensuring that the skills of decades in Coventry – that built aircrafts, cars and so much else – are developed into the high tech we want for the UK’s 21st-century sustainable industry.
“And I believe that what we have outlined here today ought to be good news for Coventry and the West Midlands.”
Mr Corbyn said Labour’s position contrasted with the so-called ‘hard Brexit’ approach, involving separating entirely from the customs union and the single market, which the government says would enable the UK to negotiate its own trade deals.
Leaked economic plans were recently unveiled with some showing the Midlands might be one of the worst affected areas once the UK leaves the EU.
The Labour leader added: “Many businesses have supply chains and production processes, interwoven throughout Europe.
“Take the UK car industry, which supports 169,000 manufacturing jobs, 52,000 of which are here in the West Midlands.
“It makes no sense for the UK to abandon EU agencies and tariff-free trading rules that have served us well, supporting our industrial sectors, protecting workers and consumers and safeguarding the environment.”
Many West Midlands businesses have predicted tough times and possible job losses lie ahead if a hard Brexit materialises.
Jaguar Land Rover has recently been forced to cut back production in West Midlands plants due to what it called ‘Brexit uncertainty’.
Labour’s Brexit strategy is considered by some to be intended to pile pressure on prime minister Theresa May.
She is seeking to stabilise her party with many Conservative MPs favouring remaining in the customs union with access to the single market.
Mr Corbyn has been accused of ‘playing politics’ by some, while others accuse him of disrespecting the UK’s democratic decision to leave the EU after a referendum last year.
The West Midlands region voted (59 per cent) to leave – one of the highest proportion of leave voters in the country.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson tweeted: “Crumbling Corbyn betrays Leave voters – and all because he wants to win a commons vote. Cynical and deluded.”
He added: “Corbyn’s Brexit plan would leave U.K. a colony of the EU – unable to take back control of our borders or our trade policy. White flag from Labour before talks even begin.”