Jeremy Corbyn offered encouragement to Labour MPs who campaigned to leave the EU, the former chief executive of the official Vote Leave campaign has claimed.
Matthew Elliot said he believed the Labour leader was “ideologically” against the EU and claimed he approached leading Labour pro-Brexit figures and told them to “keep up the good work”.
The Labour leader has denied suggestions he privately backed Brexit after years of opposition to key aspects of the European single market, and says he voted Remain.
“During the referendum [Corbyn] came up to someone from the Labour Leave campaign and basically said ‘good on you, keep up the good work’,” Mr Elliot said in an interview recorded last year, but published online today.
The independent Labour Leave group was led by the MPs Graham Stringer, Kelvin Hopkins and Roger Godsiff. Kate Hoey was also involved but resigned four months before the referendum.
Labour MP Ian Murray said: “I’m pleased that at Labour conference, party policy changed to support a People’s Vote, but it’s clear that was achieved despite a lack of support from Jeremy Corbyn.”
SNP MP Stephen Gethins said: “If these allegations are true, it wouldn’t be surprising given Labour’s complete failure to oppose a Tory hard Brexit.
“If Jeremy Corbyn was serious about protecting jobs and livelihoods, Labour would join the SNP in supporting continued membership of the single market and customs union.”
A Labour spokesman called the claims “absolute nonsense” and said Mr Corbyn had campaigned extensively for “remain and reform of the EU”.