Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of ‘failing a test of leadership’ after again leaving doubt about whether his party would back a second referendum on EU membership.
Mr Corbyn is pushing for a general election if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated in tomorrow’s Commons vote, but senior Labour figures have avoided giving a clear answer on how it would approach the subject of the EU in that campaign.
The Labour leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that if he entered Downing Street, he would “rather get a negotiated deal now if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on 29 March which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade.”
Mr Corbyn warned the Prime Minister she faces a vote of no confidence in her Government “soon”, saying people should “see what happens” on Tuesday, but added that his party would table a confidence motion “at a time of our choosing”.
“We will table a motion of no confidence in the Government at a time of our choosing,” he told the Marr Show, “but it’s going to be soon, don’t worry about it.”
Mr Corbyn also hinted that Article 50 may have to be extended if his party came into power.
He said: “Clearly if Theresa May’s deal is voted down, clearly if a general election takes place and a Labour government comes in – an election would take place February, March time – clearly there’s only a few weeks between that and the leave date, there would have to be time for those negotiations.”
Labour would prioritise membership of the customs union in a negotiation with the EU, and would be willing to consider continuing with free movement of people as part of a deal for market access, Mr Corbyn suggested.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “48 hours from the biggest crisis the UK has faced since WW2, the country required leadership from the Leader of the Opposition. Corbyn has sat on the fence and failed that test.”
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said: “Jeremy Corbyn wants a general election on Brexit, but this morning failed five times to say what he would actually do on Brexit.
“He also confirmed Labour would delay Brexit by extending Article 50 – perhaps because he needs time to make up his mind.”