Corbyn declares Labour would back Remain in public vote
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn clarified his position on Brexit by writing to members to confirm the party would back remain in any referendum on a withdrawal deal negotiated between the government and the EU.
Corbyn’s move comes amid criticism of the party’s lack of clarity on its Brexit policy and pressure to switch stance to Remain after sustaining losses in the European elections.
Labour's difficulties came in contrast to the success of the more explicitly pro-Remain party, the Liberal Democrats.
Stakeholders in the party, including the trade unions, were consulted prior to Corbyn's statement.
Corbyn’s statement to members did not outline Labour’s position in the event of a general election or whether the party would enter a general election with a policy to deliver Brexit.
However, if any referendum were to be called on a deal negotiated by the government or on a no-deal Brexit, Corbyn pledged that the party would back remaining in the EU.
Corbyn also challenged the new prime minister, who will be either Boris Johnson or Conservative leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, to put any deal or indeed no-deal to the public, staying true to the party’s shift since the European elections.
His statement reads: “Whoever becomes the new prime minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or no deal, back to the people in a public vote.
"In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either no-deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs”.
Corbyn staunchly defended Labour’s position since the result of the 2016 referendum, pointing out the division Brexit had caused “in our communities and sometimes in our party”.
Corbyn also stated that Labour’s compromise plan will “bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work”.
He added, “We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together”, the statement reads.
A number of key trade unions said that Labour should look to negotiate its own Brexit deal which would then be put to a public vote.
Both Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Corbyn’s own deputy Tom Watson are staunch pro-remain figures in the shadow cabinet, with the latter having publicly urged Corbyn to throw the party’s weight behind Remain.
However, there is still discord within the party about adopting a pro-Remain stance, with many of its MPs representing pro-Leave constituencies.
Shadow Cabinet members Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery believe supporting Remain in a referendum could lose voters in Leave-heavy constituencies in the next general election, particularly given the Brexit Party's relative success in the EU elections.