Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to “sort” Brexit within six months of taking office received a boost from the Irish government, with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying Dublin was open to working with whoever enters Downing Street on 13 December.
But the SNP insisted Jeremy Corbyn “can’t be trusted” on Brexit, and warned that Labour’s policy of renegotiating the UK’s exit deal and putting it to a referendum could see Scotland taken out of the EU against its will.
Launching his party’s manifesto in Birmingham, Mr Corbyn defended his refusal to say which way Labour would campaign in a second EU referendum, saying Leave and Remain voters affected by poverty and poor public service “have the same interests”.
The Labour leader said Boris Johnson’s claim that he could strike a trade deal with the EU by the end of the post-Brexit transition phase in December 2020 “is a fraud on the British people” adding: “His sell-out deal will be just the beginning of years of drawn-out, bogged-down negotiations and broken promises.
“Three years, maybe more, according to the EU negotiator Michel Barnier. And his toxic deal with Donald Trump will take even longer.”
But the SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins called on Mr Corbyn to “come clean and admit whether he is planning to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will”.
He went on: “With Labour it will be very different. We will get Brexit sorted within six months, because we’re not going to rip up our main trading relationship.
“We’ll secure a sensible deal that protects manufacturing and the Good Friday Agreement, and then put it to a public vote alongside the option of remaining in the EU.”
Mr Corbyn said Labour’s six-month timetable, allowing just three months to renegotiate the UK’s Brexit deal, was deliverable because his government would not “tear up” the existing relationship with Brussels.
Labour’s deal, which would be put to a legally binding referendum, would seek a customs union with the EU, and close alignment with single market rules.
Responding to the Labour manifesto, Mr Varadkar told Irish broadcaster RTE: “Whoever is in government in the UK in a few weeks time, whoever is prime minister, we will be happy to sit down with them, listen to what they say and work with them, and in a hypothetical scenario if a UK government wants to talk about a customs union, with the EU, or closer alignment with the single market, that’s something we’ve always been open to, something we’d be very happy to talk to the UK government about.”
But the SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins went on the attack, calling in Mr Corbyn to “come clean and admit whether he is planning to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will.
“Labour’s increasingly muddled position on Brexit is farcical. Corbyn has refused to say whether or not he supports Brexit, and won’t make any commitment about how a UK Labour government would campaign in a second EU referendum,” Mr Gethins said.
“Labour is taking voters for fools with its confusing, contradictory and ever-changing positions - and cannot be trusted to protect Scotland’s place at the heart of Europe.”
Home Office minister Brandon Lewis said the manifesto showed Labour “simply doesn’t have a plan for Brexit.
“Without a plan to get Brexit done he has no credibility on anything else.
“Corbyn’s Labour can’t win a majority, so his only chance of getting into power is to do a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP,” the Tory minister said.
“That would mean that 2020 would be lost to the chaos of another two referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.”
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Ed Davey sais Labour’s plans to increase public spending by £135bn “do not add up” unless the UK stays in the EU.
“The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and use the £50 billion Remain Bonus to invest in public services and build a brighter future,” Mr Davey said.
“We’ll prioritise tackling the climate emergency and investing in housing, education and welfare, while Corbyn would embark on yet another Brexit renegotiation.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has put forward a manifesto which is filled with uncosted, undeliverable promises and fails to address Brexit.”