Corbyn made the remarks during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons, as he engaged in a debate with May over her newly announced plans to take the UK of the European Union (EU).
Months after Britons voted to end the UK’s EU membership in a historic referendum in July, May finally laid out her plans for a “clean” Brexit on Tuesday and said she would ask for the Parliament’s approval before implementing any agreement with the EU.
The premier also threatened to walk away from a “punitive” deal with the EU and use low corporate taxes to attract business and investment from around the world.
Corbyn criticized May for not making her speech at the Parliament, where her plans would undergo true scrutiny by all lawmakers.
“This speech should have been given in Parliament where MPs could ask her questions on behalf of their constituents. She talks about Brexit restoring parliamentary sovereignty but, once again, she is determined to avoid real scrutiny of her plans,” he said.
The opposition leader then attacked May for proposing a “bargain basement” plan and said her threat of turning Britain into a “low-pay tax haven on the shores of Europe” was demeaning.
“It wouldn't necessarily damage the EU, but it would certainly damage this country - businesses, jobs and public services,” Corbyn said. “She demeans herself and her office and our country's standing by making these kinds of threats.”
May defended her plan in response, saying it would make Britain “global” and bring jobs and wealth to the country. She also attacked Corbyn for offering “hypocritical” ideas for Brexit talks.
Meanwhile, Corbyn took issue with May’s stance on the UK’s access to the single market after the divorce, saying she did not clearly state whether she was going to preserve the access or not.
“Mrs. May has said she will leave the single market and, at the same time, has said she wants to have access to it,” he said. “I am not quite sure how that is going to go down in Europe ... She seems to be wanting to have her cake and eat it.”
May has promised to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty by the end of March, and said that she believed a final settlement and trade deal could be simultaneously negotiated within the time frame.