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Corbyn to meet with Barnier as he anticipates snap UK election
[LONDON] UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet with the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier next week as he stands ready for a snap election that could make him prime minister.
The "extended meeting" with Mr Barnier next Thursday will give Mr Corbyn the chance to "outline what our issues are," he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London on Thursday.
The announcement points to the confidence that Mr Corbyn, an old-school Socialist once considered the underdog, has that he can exploit the weakness of his Conservative rivals and come to power on a call to end austerity.
Labour erased Prime Minister Theresa May's parliamentary majority last month and she has what Mr Corbyn called a "very strange" arrangement with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists that he expects will unravel and trigger another vote.
"Things could change quite quickly, we could at some point have another election, I don't know when, but we are ready for it, I am very ready for it," he told Bloomberg TV Thursday.
Under his leadership during the campaign and after, Labour has edged ahead of Mrs May's Conservatives in opinion polls after a series of missteps and policy reversals by the premier.
During the interview, the 68-year-old longstanding euroskeptic sought to clarify his position on Brexit, an issue he's devoted much less attention to than public spending.
He reluctantly put his name to the Remain side in the referendum and fired some lawmakers who backed an amendment in Parliament calling on the government to keep open the option of staying in the bloc's single market and customs union. He's said he's committed to pulling out of the single market, a goal shared with the Tories.
"Fundamentally we want to make sure there's tariff-free trade access to the European market, that's crucial," he said.
"We accept the result of the referendum," he said.
"The single market requires membership of the EU so what we're looking for is tariff-free access."
Mr Corbyn said his party, which wants to protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain and maintain European-levels of consumer and environmental protections, is building on its links with other socialist parties across Europe as it tries to build a constructive relationship for after Brexit.
"We will have discussions, we will set out our main objectives," Mr Corbyn said.
"It's a jobs-first Brexit that we're concerned about."