Is Labour in touch with its support base?

Is Labour in touch with its core support base on Brexit?

It's a question I put to the shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer who was highlighting his position on a visit to a manufacturing exporter in Merthyr Tydfil, a town that voted 56% to Leave.

And the question was put to him in light of Jeremy Corbyn's relaxed approach to immigration, and in light of comments from the neighbouring MP Owen Smith who has spoken openly of changing legislation for a second referendum.

In response, Keir Starmer told me he was in listening mode, and the message had got through from traditional Labour voters that they wanted the party to do something about immigration. He's also set himself against a second referendum.

In fact, he says looking at rules governing the free movement of people should be on the Brexit negotiating table right from the start.

Negotiating table

His approach, and that of the First Minister Carwyn Jones, could be described as a "have your cake and eat it" strategy.

In other words, it involves trying to deal with immigration, an area that has proved hugely problematic for the left, while also maintaining tariff-free access to the single market.

This holy grail territory is what many Conservatives appear to be holding out for as well, no matter how unrealistic it would appear to be judging by the noises coming from EU leaders.

When I asked him whether losing the access was a price worth paying for controls on immigration, the answer was that a balance had to be struck.

And when I asked him whether it was even possible to have the two, the answer was you have to aim high in the negotiations, before laying into the Conservative position which he fears will mean the UK giving up on tariff-free trade early on in the process.

Of course, this is denied by the government but gives us a sense of the early battle lines.

On a separate note, both Keir Starmer and Jo Stevens have a legal background and both felt that next month the Supreme Court would uphold the decision of the High Court that Parliament should have a vote on triggering article 50.