News | Published September 18 2019

"Stop a no-deal Brexit and let the people decide”, Corbyn says

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that he favours a second referendum on Brexit, but would abstain from campaigning for either side and instead seek to implement what the people of the UK decide were he to become prime minister.

Corbyn has outlined what he calls a “sensible” deal that he would negotiate with the EU as prime minister, a deal which would involve a customs union with the bloc.

Writing in The Guardian, he said that this new deal would then be put to the people in a second referendum against the option to Remain.

He has also said that he will back a general election as soon as an extension to Article 50 is secured in order to stave off a possible no-deal Brexit in October.

Despite Corbyn’s neutral stance, there is division within the shadow cabinet as senior members John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry, Tom Watson and Nick Brown have all indicated that they would want to campaign for Remain in another referendum regardless of any Brexit deal that a Labour government may negotiate.

Deputy leader Watson even went as far to say in a speech that the party should “unambiguously and unequivocally back Remain” and pursue a second public vote, which was dismissed by Corbyn.

Next week’s Labour Party conference in Brighton is also expected to come with a high presence of pro-EU activists hoping to convince the party to decisively shift its stance toward Remain.

During the conference, 80 motions submitted by local parties in favour of campaigning for Remain in a second public vote will be tabled. 

Corbyn will be forced to win the backing of conference delegates for his stance on Brexit as opposed to a more pro-Remain approach.

In The Guardian piece, Corbyn outlined his desire for a better deal with Brussels and believes that such an agreement could be quickly negotiated. This would then allow a “credible” option to leave to be weighed up against remaining in the EU.

Corbyn wrote: “A Labour government would secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated, including a new customs union with the EU; a close single market relationship; guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections.

“We would then put that to a public vote alongside Remain. I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister”.

Corbyn also launched an attack on the Liberal Democrats after party leader Jo Swinson laid out their plans to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit entirely should they be elected.

He wrote: "Labour is now the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain to make the decision.

"The Liberal Democrats want MPs to overturn the referendum result by revoking Article 50 in a parliamentary stitch-up. It is simply undemocratic to override the decision of a majority of the voters without going back to the people."

Speaking on prime minister Boris Johnson and the Conservatives, Corbyn added: “Johnson wants to crash out with no deal. That is something opposed by business, industry, the trade unions and most of the public, even by the Vote Leave campaign’s co-convener Michael Gove.

“He [Gove] said earlier this year: ‘We didn’t vote to leave without a deal.’

“Labour is the only party determined to bring people together. Only a vote for Labour will deliver a public vote on Brexit. Only a Labour government will put the power back into the hands of the people. Let’s stop a no-deal Brexit and let the people decide”.

However, the pro-European group Another Europe is Possible, who have tabled a number of Brexit motions for the Labour Party conference, have opposed Corbyn's stance, saying it would not make sense for Labour not to back Remain in a second referendum.

AEP member Michael Chessum said: “Labour has already crossed the Rubicon in promising a public vote with the option to remain. It would be utterly absurd for Labour not to campaign for Remain when 90 per cent of its members want to stay in the EU.

“Trying to prevent Labour from backing Remain is a dead end for Corbyn. It will inevitably fail and it risks the morale of our base at a crucial moment”.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
September 18 2019

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