A general election triggered by a Brexit crisis would provide a "once-in-a-generation chance" for a change of direction in politics, Jeremy Corbyn said today while claiming that he'd do "everything necessary" to prevent a "disastrous" no-deal Brexit.
The Labour leader added that he backed calls for Parliament to be recalled "in order to prevent the Prime Minister having some kind of manoeuvre to take us out on the 31st October without any further discussion in Parliament" on Brexit.
However, when asked if preventing a no-deal Brexit included supporting a government of national unity that was not led by him, Mr Corbyn said it should be the leader of the opposition who should take over if and when a Prime Minister loses a no confidence vote.
Mr Corbyn last week urged other party political leaders and rebel Tory MPs to back his plan to hold a no confidence vote in Boris Johnson, and then a short-term government led by him to prevent the UK leaving the EU with no deal, However that was ruled out almost instantly by Tory Remainers and the Liberal Democrats, who suggested such a government could be led by Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke.
Today, giving a speech in Northamptonshire, Mr Corbyn said: "Labour believes the decision on how to resolve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people. And if there is a general election this autumn, Labour would commit to holding a public vote, to give voters the final say, with credible options for both sides, including the option to remain."
Pressed on the issue of the leader of any unity government, journalists were heckled by Labour activists, with Mr Corbyn asking the audience to "be polite" adding he was a member of the NUJ and "defending" the journalist's "right to speak".
He added there had been some "very imaginative what-ifery" around suggestions that Clarke or Harman could take over instead.
The Labour leader's speech was delivered a day after leaked documents about the government's Brexit preparations, named Project Yellowhammer, has warned of food and medicine shortages in a no-deal exit.
The government has moved quickly to distance itself from the report, which Cabinet minister Michael Gove said outlined a "worst-case scenario", and blamed the leak on Tory Remainers, no longer in the Cabinet.
But Mr Corbyn said the report proved the "Conservative party's failure on Brexit" and added its "lurch to the hard right has provoked the crisis our country faces. After failing to negotiate a Brexit deal which would protect jobs and living standards, Boris Johnson's Tories are driving the country towards a no deal cliff edge.
"Let's be very clear, we will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous no deal for which this government has no mandate."
Asked about a parliamentary recall, he said: "I have been very clear I do support the recall in order to prevent the Prime Minister having some kind of manoeuvre to take us out on the 31st October without any further discussion in Parliament."
Accusing the Conservatives of having "failed our country", he said Boris Johnson and his "hard right Tory cabinet have direct responsibility for the Tory decade of devastating damage done to our communities and the fabric of our society.:
"However the Brexit crisis is resolved, the country faces a fundamental choice. Labour offers the real change of direction the country needs: a radical programme to rebuild and transform communities and public services, invest in the green jobs and high tech industries of the future, and take action to tackle inequality and climate crisis.
"The Tories have lurched to the hard right under Boris Johnson, Britain's Trump, the fake populist and phoney outsider, funded by the hedge funds and bankers, committed to protecting the vested interests of the richest and the elites, while posing as anti-establishment."
Mr Corbyn said that a general election could lead to social change on the scale of 1945 or 1979, and he laid out the bones of a Labour campaign which would focus on "reducing inequality and boosting public services".
"While Brexit is the framework of the crisis we face, the problems facing our country run much deeper," he said. "A general election triggered by the Tory Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country. It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction, potentially on the scale of 1945 or 1979. Things cannot go on as they were before."
He said multi-national corporations would have to pay taxes they owe in the UK, and Labour would introduce a "real living wage of £10 an hour" including for young people and that workers would get places on the boards of large companies and a 10 per cent stake in large companies.
Mr Corbyn said: "Labour won't tell people they have to work until they are 75 before they get their pension as Iain Duncan Smith's think tank has suggested. A policy that discriminates against working class people, essentially those in manual jobs."
He also said power would be shifted into the hands "of the majority". He said "rail, mail, water, and the National Grid" would be brought into public ownership, to ensure "essential utilities" are run "for the public, not the share holders".
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said: "Jeremy Corbyn has done all he can to frustrate delivering on the referendum result.
"This is a cynical attempt to seize power by a man who would wreck the economy, is soft on crime and won't stand up for Britain. All Jeremy Corbyn offers is more dither and delay.
"Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can provide the leadership Britain needs and deliver Brexit by October 31, whatever happens."
Mr Corbyn’s announcement of a ‘green industrial strategy’ was also criticised as a diversion from Labour’s "confusing stance" on Brexit, according to the Scottish Greens.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “There is much to be welcomed in what Jeremy Corbyn has called his ‘green industrial strategy’ but the fact is he’s distracting from his obfuscation on Brexit.
“His comments about focusing investment on public transport and new green industries are absolutely right, but Labour also commits to maximum extraction of oil and gas and have even considered opening new coal mines. It doesn’t add up. The UN have given us a decade to turn it around and to do that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground.
“Labour are no clearer on Brexit. On the day it emerged that the UK government is planning to bring freedom of movement to an abrupt end on the day we leave the EU, Jeremy Corbyn should be reflecting on why he also committed to end opportunities for our young people to work across Europe.
“Scotland needs a bold Scottish Green New Deal which safeguards jobs by starting to build a sustainable future for our country now, not after we’ve extracted every last drop of oil and ignored the Climate Emergency.”