Theresa May criticised the Labour party’s position on membership of a customs union after Brexit, characterising earlier statements by the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn as contradictory and asking whether he wanted to “let down the country or agree with the government”.

Ahead of a major speech by the prime minister on Friday to set out what the government wants from the EU on Brexit, Mr Corbyn called on Mrs May to explain her latest “soundbite” of “ambitious managed divergence” from the trading bloc, and what exactly that meant in practice.

The Tory party leader told opposition MPs to “just calm down” in a bad-tempered session of prime minister’s questions in parliament, which saw Mr Corbyn criticise the “endless round of after dinner speeches by the prime minister” which he said did not “really substitute for actual negotiations”.

The government had already set out what kind of deal the government was seeking and would set out its plans in more detail later this week, Mrs May said.

The prime minister dodged detailed questions on the Northern Ireland border, but backed the Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has been criticised for comments this week likening the boundary issues to those between London boroughs and a leaked memorandum raising fears of a hard border.

“The Foreign secretary and I are absolutely committed to no hard border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” she said.

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