News | Published October 13 2019

Labour would hold second EU referendum after general election, says Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that the party would hold a second referendum on Brexit after winning a general election.

Speaking in Northampton, Corbyn added that it was an “absolute priority” to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit in October before any election takes place.

Incumbent prime minister Boris Johnson has vowed that the UK will leave the EU by the Article 50 deadline of October 31 with or without a deal.

However, opposition and rebel Conservative MPs passed legislation hoping to prevent no-deal by forcing Johnson to request an extension from the EU should a deal which has been granted parliamentary approval not be in place by October 19.

Opposition MPs have also rejected the prime minister’s calls for a general election before the end of October, with Corbyn firm in his position that the time for a national poll will be when an extension to Article 50 has been obtained or a deal is agreed.

Corbyn added that the opposition could not trust the prime minister to abide by the new legislation, dubbed the Benn Act, and request the EU for an extension to Article 50.

He said: We can't trust you [the prime minister] not to use the period of an election campaign to drive our country off a no-deal cliff edge that will crash our economy, destroy jobs and industries, cause shortages of medicine and food and endanger peace in Northern Ireland.

"So it's simple: obey the law, take no-deal off the table and then let's have the election."

Corbyn has also promised that a Labour government would hold a second referendum on Brexit if it is to assume power, pitting a new Brexit deal negotiated by Labour against the option to Remain.

He said: “After an election, a Labour government would introduce legislation to ensure a referendum takes place.

"The second referendum is what we propose under a Labour government, when it's been elected, which would be not a choice between a no-deal cliff edge but between an intelligent arrangement with the European Union and "Remain" so that people would have a choice.

"Our absolute priority is to make sure that no-deal is taken off the table and an extension of membership is attained.”

However, there is still division on the party’s Brexit policy within the shadow cabinet, with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry having said that she sees an element of “sense" in having another referendum on Brexit before any general election.

During his speech, Corbyn addressed some of Labour’s other plans for government including a ban on fracking, scrapping the controversial Universal Credit benefit and tuition fees, building one million more affordable homes over the next decade and increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour for 16 year olds.

He also accused the prime minister of using the upcoming Queen’s Speech, normally used for the purpose of setting out the domestic agenda, “to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast”, which Downing Street denies.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
October 13 2019

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