- Jeremy Corbyn backs a second referendum on Brexit in which the Labour Party would campaign for Remain.
- The Labour leader says the party would back a referendum to prevent a no-deal Brexit or a deal negotiated by the Conservative governemnt.
- It follows an agreement between union leaders on Monday backing a new vote.
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LONDON – The Labour Party will campaign to remain in the European Union in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit, or leaving the EU with a deal negotiated by the Conservative government, Jeremy Corbyn announced on Tuesday.
The Labour leader said his Shadow Cabinet had agreed that a second referendum was now needed, after talks with the Conservative government to find a compromise collapsed earlier this year.
“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,” Corbyn said in an email to his party members.
“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.”
- READ: No-deal Brexit: Almost half of Brits are stockpiling food, medicine and clothes as UK heads for the cliff edge
- MORE: Boris Johnson to be hit by dozens of new Tory rebels as sacked ministers join forces to stop a no-deal Brexit
Under Labour’s new policy, the party will back remaining in the EU under all circumstances, apart from the scenario in which there is a general election before Brexit which leads to Labour forming a government.
Under that scenario, the party would decide at the time whether to back remaining in the EU, depending on the terms of any Brexit deal it is able to negotiate with the EU. This means Labour could still campaign to leave the EU in a future referendum.
Corbyn said the shift in his party’s position became necessary after the collapse of talks with outgoing Theresa May earlier this year.
“Labour set out a compromise plan to try to bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work,” Corbyn wrote to members.
“We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.
“But the Prime Minister refused to compromise.”
- Lindsey Parnaby/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Second referendum campaigners welcomed the announcement, but urged him to go further and back remaining in the EU under all circumstances.
“This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but Labour can’t believe that both their own deal and remaining are best for Britain,” Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said.
“It’s decision time for the Labour leadership. If they don’t settle on campaigning to stop Brexit then they will be letting down the vast majority of their membership, voters and the country.”
Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokesperson, said that despite the announcement, “Labour are still a party of Brexit.”
He added: “Jeremy Corbyn can pretend all he likes that the Labour Party are finally moving towards backing the Liberal Democrat policy of a People’s Vote, but it is clear it is still his intention to negotiate a damaging Brexit deal if he gets the keys to number ten.” “Labour must start being transparent with the British people. Any Brexit deal, whoever it is negotiated by, will damage our country. It will mean job losses, problems for our NHS, and more time wasted on not tackling the biggest issues facing the UK.”