Jeremy Corbyn: Labour is ‘party of choice’ on Brexit

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn on Brexit, anti-Semitism and his vision for the country

Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is the “party of choice” when it comes to Brexit.

He told BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar he would “make a case” to Parliament in September to get another referendum after “an awful lot of listening to an awful lot of people”.

He said Labour would back Remain against no deal or a Tory deal, but denied bowing to pressure from colleagues to take a pro-EU stance.

“We will give people the choice on this,” he added.

“That is surely something that is very important.”

Earlier, in a letter to members, Mr Corbyn called for the next prime minister – Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt – to hold a further referendum on Brexit, and promised his party would campaign for Remain to stop “no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit”.

It follows a meeting with unions earlier this week, who agreed a position to hold another public vote and to fight for Remain.

But their leaders also said Labour should negotiate their own Brexit deal if they were to win the next general election and also put that to a vote – with Remain as an option on the ballot.

Mr Corbyn has not gone that far – refusing to say at this stage what he would do if he makes it to Downing Street.

The Labour leader said the party had pledged to respect the referendum in 2016 and had done so by voting to trigger Article 50 and fighting the last general election campaign on that promise.

But after Labour went into talks with the government, “it became very clear they simply could not deliver”.

He said he now believed both Tory leadership candidates were “vying with each other in the extremities of no deal” which he saw as “very dangerous” for the UK.

So, Mr Corbyn said he would try to go to Parliament in July to call for a referendum – or again in September if there was not enough time before recess.

“What I have tried to do is to reflect a majority and consensus position and I believe I have achieved that,” he said.

He added that he was very grateful to those who had “made a little bit of a jump to get to a decision we can all live with”.

‘Take the movement with me’

Asked if he had changed his position because of pressure from colleagues, Mr Corbyn said: “Not a bit of it. I’ve been listening and I’ve enjoyed it.”

He added: “What I have done is what I think a leader should do and that is spend some time listening to people.

“Many of my colleagues have found this a very frustrating experience because they have said, ‘why don’t you just tell us what to think?’

“But I said no, I want to take the movement with me, I want to take the the membership with me, I want to take the unions with me, I want to take the public with us if we can, because this is a very important time for this country.”

‘We will decide very quickly’

Pushed on whether he would support the union’s position of negotiating a new deal were he to get into No 10 – and putting it to a public vote – Mr Corbyn said it was too early to say, and more listening needed to take place.

“The next election will come when it comes,” he said. “It could be this October, it could be next year, it could be even 2022.

“We have a very large party, a very large membership and many parts to our party and our movement and we have a democratic process.

“We will decide very quickly at the start of that campaign, because we don’t know by that stage whether we would have left the EU, still be in the EU or part of a Parliamentary struggle with Johnson or Hunt trying to take us over a cliff edge.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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