Brexit will go down in history as a "national failure" if Theresa May fails to protect jobs and living standards in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn warned on Wednesday (29 March).

The Labour leader's statement came just hours before Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's chief representative to the EU, hand-delivers the Article 50 notification to the EU Council.

The move will start the two-year-long divorce talks with Brussels, with May planning to call for UK-wide unity as she addresses MPs after Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs).

"The British people made the decision to leave the European Union and Labour respects that decision. Britain is going to change as a result. The question is how," Corbyn said.

"The Conservatives want to use Brexit to turn our country into a low-wage tax haven. Labour is determined to ensure we can rebuild and transform Britain, so no one and no community is left behind. It will be a national failure of historic proportions if the prime minister comes back from Brussels without having secured protection for jobs and living standard.

"That's why Labour has set the clear priorities of full access to the European market, rights at work and environment protection. And we will hold the government to account every step of the way."

But despite Labour's call for full access to the EU's single market, May said in her Lancaster House speech that she would not seek to maintain the UK's membership of the market.

The UK government also wants a bespoke customs agreement with Brussels so that Britain can broker its own free trade deals.

Theresa May's 12-point Brexit plan

  1. Government will provide certainty and clarity to politicians and businesses
  2. UK will 'control our own laws' by quitting the European Court of Justice
  3. Strengthen the 'precious union' between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
  4. There will be no 'hard border' between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  5. UK will 'control' EU immigration, while recruiting the 'brightest and the best' from around the world
  6. Government will seek a reciprocal residency rights deal for EU and UK workers "as soon as possible"
  7. To protect workers' rights
  8. Ministers will seek a 'bold' and 'comprehensive' free trade agreement with the EU
  9. UK will seek a customs agreement so that it can broker its own trade deals with non-EU nations
  10. Maintain European science and innovation ties in bid to keep the UK a 'world leader'
  11. UK will continue to work with the EU to combat the threat of terrorism
  12. Ministers will seek to avoid a 'cliff edge' and seek a smooth split from the EU