Jeremy Corbyn defends 'neutral' stance in second EU referendum

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended his plan to go into a possible snap general election without saying whether he would campaign to remain in the European Union in a second Brexit referendum.
Labour leader Jeremy CorbynLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leader hopes to negotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels and put that to a public vote against the option of staying in the EU.

Mr Corbyn promised a special Labour conference for party members to decide whether to endorse a new Brexit deal his government would negotiate, or back Remaining in the EU.

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"What we have said is that we would want to hold a consultation, a special conference of our party at the point that we have got this offer from the EU, we've got this as a remain - and hopefully reform - option," he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

"Because I do think even those that are strongly in favour of remain would recognise the EU needs to have some reforms."

The Labour leader said he would “go along with whatever decision the party comes to” on Brexit, and did not rule out giving Labour MPs a free vote if Boris Johnson brings a deal back to the Commons.

Mr Corbyn risked angering Labour’s pro-EU membership by suggesting the UK could be better off after Brexit, with the right deal.

“Please remember why people voted Leave, why people voted Remain, but also remember there is more that unites all of those people – over austerity, over investment, over education, over housing, over health, over a green industrial revolution – than there is that divides them,” he said.

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said the comments show Mr Corbyn “can’t lead his own party”.

Jeremy Corbyn this morning refused nine times to say if Labour would support Brexit even if they negotiated a deal with the EU themselves, showing Labour offer nothing but dither and pointless delay,” Mr Cleverly said.

“Jeremy Corbyn can’t lead his own party, let alone the country – he can’t even make up his mind on the most important issue facing the country.

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“He would delay Brexit until at least 2020 and even longer if the EU demand it – Brussels would be in the driving seat and Corbyn would accept anything from them.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, whose party has pledged to revoke Article 50 if it forms a majority government, said: “Jeremy Corbyn has once again refused to deny that if he becomes Prime Minister his government will be a Brexit government.

"This will be deeply concerning to millions of Labour supporters who want to campaign to stop Brexit and cannot get any clarity from Labour.”