Brexit live: Jeremy Corbyn says he would push to leave EU if he was PM

Posted on Dec 23 2018 - 12:20pm by admin

The opposition leader said he if he became Prime Minister he would head to Brussels to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s divorce deal from the European Union to secure a better outcome for the country.Mr Corbyn, a socialist who has in the past made a string of anti-EU comments and bashed the bloc for supporting austerity, has been reluctant to throw his weight behind a campaign for a People’s Vote, backed by a sizeable chunk of his party.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he would continue with Brexit plans if he was elected PM (Image: Getty)

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Critics believes Mr Corbyn is happy to go along with the embattled PM’s Brexit deal (Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” Mr Corbyn told the Guardian when asked what he would do if he won an election in the new year. 

Critics have accused Mr Corbyn of conducting a lacklustre Remain campaign in the run up to the 2016 referendum, with some even calling for his resignation, and have argued that he is happy to go along with Theresa May’s Brexit policy as long as the UK departs the EU. 

If the Prime Minister fails to get her deal through parliament there could be a new election to break the deadlock. 

Mr Corbyn has advocated for a permanent customs union with the EU and a close relationship with its lucrative single market which allows for the free circulation of goods.

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Mr Corbyn has refused to back calls for a People’s Vote (Image: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

This proposed policy has been dubbed “constructive ambiguity” by some, who question whether the opposition party could negotiate a better deal. 

Labour remains deeply divided over Brexit, with some senior lawmakers leading calls for a fresh vote while others are representing areas that recorded the highest support for leaving the EU in the 2016 plebiscite. 

If a referendum were held, Mr Corbyn said party members would come together to decide on what the best stance would be to take forward. 

“It would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at the moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners,” said the 69-year-old.

With the countdown on until the departure day on March 29, the clamour is growing for either a delay in Brexit or a second vote to avert the no-deal scenario which many economists say would be a “disaster” for the UK.

Mr Corbyn said he has concerns about EU rules on state aid, and that he had to balance the view of all those in the party and understand why so many voted to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc. 

To the surprise of some Labour activists, he said in his party conference speech that the party could back Mrs May’s deal if she secured a permanent customs union and offered stronger assurances on workers’ rights and environmental standards. 

He insisted his stance on this remains the same, adding: “It’s there: at no stage since I made that in October has the government been in touch with us at all.”

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10.50pm update: Round-up of the day

Today started with Jeremy Corbyn being criticised for saying he would continue with Brexit if Labour won a snap election, despite many members of his party demanding he changes his policy to campaign for a second referendum.

Meanwhile the DUP’s deputy leader slammed the EU and Ireland by saying the backstop is an “utter con trick.”

It was also reported the EU could block any attempt to extend Article 50 with MEPs saying they will hold the UK to the March 29 deadline.

Amber Rudd said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker should face an official complaint over “grotesque” behaviour but Ireland’s Taoiseach insisted Mr Juncker was the right man to lead the EU through Brexit.

Finally, former Chancellor George Osborne warned Tories they face a prolongued period in opposition if Theresa May does not change her Brexit strategy.

9.55pm update: Stranded Gatwick family joke drone chaos is a “nice distraction” from Brexit

One passenger stranded at Gatwick airport managed to make light of the situation earlier today by saying the chaos was a “nice distrcation” from Brexit.

David Shorrock, whose flight Austria was cancelled kept his cool as other passengers had their Christmas plans ruined.

The Oxford man had been due to travel to Innsbruck with his family for a skiiing holiday.

His wife Vivienne Shorrock was “relieved” to have avoided the drone disruption as she was worried the family’s non-refundable holiday would go to waste.

“But then we thought well it’s a middle class problem isn’t it. Oh no, we can’t go on a skiing holiday,” she said.

Mr Shorrock joked the drone drama was a “nice distraction from Brexit” before offering a novel solution to the problem.

He said: “They should’ve got some farmers here. They would’ve soon sorted it out.

“You get 100 young farmers here with a flagon of cider. Free cider for anyone who shoots the drone.”

9pm update: Former Chancellor issues Conservatives with a stark warning

Former Chancellor George Osborne has said the Tories must make a change on their Brexit stance, warning not doing so would see them in a “prolonged period” in opposition.

Mr Osborne, who served as Chancellor under David Cameron from May 2010 to June 2016, said: “I would have essentially tried to steer a) the country away from the rocks to which it is heading at the moment, and b) the Conservative Party away from a prolonged period of opposition, which is where I think it is heading unless it engages more with modern Britain.”

Theresa May will throw a party for Tory MPs sceptical of her deal in an attempt to win them over

Theresa May will throw a party for Tory MPs sceptical of her deal in an attempt to win them over (Image: GETTY)

8.10pm update: PM to throw Brexit party for Tory Leavers

Theresa May will throw a big Brexit bash in a last minute attempt to get Tory Leavers to back her deal.

The Number 10 party is scheduled for the New Year, reports the Sun.

It will be held in the week beginning January 7, when MPs return to Parliament to debate the Withdrawal Agreement.

The divorce deal will then be voted on in the following week with the exact date not yet announced.

According to the newspaper, all Tory MPs and their partners have been invited as Theresa May attempts to persuade the 100 backbenchers who are sceptical of her deal.

7.35pm update: Rudd labels Juncker “ghastly”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is “ghastly”, a senior cabinet member has said.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said she often had to tell Mr Juncker she was unwell in order to avoid having to hug him.

She said: “He’s ghastly.

“What I minded were those pictures of the way he was holding the Prime Minister.

“I did not like that.

“When I used to go to the EU for meetings, I often had a terrible cold to insist that I didn’t get enveloped in a bear hug.”

6.45pm update: Juncker has Taoiseach’s backing despite behaviour criticism

Ireland’s Taoiseach has said he is sure Jean-Claude Juncker is the right man to lead the European Commission through Brexit.

Leo Varadkar said he has “absolute and immense confidence” in Mr Juncker’s ability as he dismissed recent criticism of the Commission’s president.

Mr Juncker’s behaviour has been questioned in recently after he bizarrely ruffled an EU official’s hair when he arrived at a European Council summit in Brussels earlier this month.

He was also involved in the public disagreement with Theresa May when he denied the Prime Minister’s claims he had called her nebulous.

Mr Varadkar said Mr Juncker is a “very good supporter of Ireland” and called him a “very effective president over the last couple of years.”

The Taoiseach added Mr Juncker “was a long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg and has been a very good colleague of mine.”

“I was there, he didn’t call Prime Minister May nebulous.

“I think he was referring to some of the requests or demands from the UK but that wasn’t a remark about her personally. Not at all.

“Probably ill-advised to fluff other people’s hair though. I wouldn’t do that myself.”

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DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has slammed the EU and Ireland for its no-deal Brexit preparations (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

6pm update: DUP deputy leader says no-deal Brexit preparations prove backstop is ‘an utter con’

The deputy leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said Ireland and the European Union’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit provide solid proof that the backstop is an ‘utter con job’.

Nigel Dodds said the lack of action by Dublin and the 27-member bloc was clear evidence that the two believe a hard border could easily be avoided. 

The MP for Belfast North told the Irish Times: “The notion that it’s necessary to have a border and checks in the Irish Sea to avoid a border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is an utter con trick.”

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Leo Varadker said Dublin is discussing no-deal preparations with Brussels and the UK Government (Image: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty )

He went on to call out what he called the “utter hypocrisy” of those espousing the Brexit deal with its “trap” of a backstop. 

Ireland’s premier Leo Vardker said if Theresa May failed to get her Brexit deal through Parliament it would be difficult to avoid a hard border. 

Mr Varadker said if the UK left the EU without a divorce deal problems would arise if the country decided to change its customs and regulations, meaning they would differ from those in Ireland. 

He said: “What is certain to me is in order to avoid a hard border you must have alignment on customs and regulations.”

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Mr Rees-Mogg told audience members booing him: “You lost the referendum.” (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

5.15pm update: Jacob Rees-Mogg shuts down Shami Chakrabarti and audience who booed him over Brexit comments

Jacob Rees-Mogg shut down BBC audience members who were booing him because of his support for Brexit, telling them “you lost the referendum”.

The Tory MP for North Somerset took on Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti who said his constituents deserve to see some leadership from him when it comes to a Brexit deal, rather than simply “to hell with it and off the cliff we go”.

The clash during an appearance on Any Questions? on Friday saw Mr Rees-Mogg reiterate his opposition to a People’s Vote.

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Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti clashed with Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg on BBC’s Any Questions? (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

“Now, a few people who don’t want to leave are trying to stop this happening,” he said.

“That threatens the democracy of our country. Whether there is a deal or not is secondary to implementing what 17.4 million people voted for.”

Addressing audience members who were voicing their disapproval for his stance, he fired back: “”I am sorry to the people who are booing, you lost the referendum. This is a democracy and that one vote is enough.”

Ms Chakrabarti called on the Tory backbencher to work to avoid a no-deal Brexit but he said this scenario would be “secondary” to delivering the demands of British voters.

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The Labour MP for Streatham has hit out at Mr Corbyn for not backing calls for a People’s Vote (Image: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

4.37pm update: Chuka Umunna calls Brexit a ‘project of the hard right’ – stinging insult to 17million voters

CHUKA Umunna has branded Brexit “a project of the hard right of British politics” in a stinging insult likely to infuriate the 17million people who voted to leave the European Union. 

The Labour Remainer went even further with his outrageous remarks by saying the campaign for the UK to divorce from the EU sought to “dump the blame” for the country’s problems on immigrants. 

The MP for Streatham, whose father was a Nigerian immigrant who arrived in the UK in the Sixties, was responding to an interview Jeremy Corbyn gave in which he said if he became PM in a snap general election he would still go ahead with Brexit. 

Mr Umunna’s insinuation that Brexiteers were bowing to the calls of hard right politicians when they voted Leave in the 2016 referendum risks causing even deeper division over Brexit in the Labour party. 

He said: “Brexit is essentially a project of the hard right of British politics who want to turn Britain into a lightly regulated, offshore tax haven for the super rich, devoid of proper protections for workers, and one which seeks to dump the blame for the UK’s problems on immigrants.

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Chuka Umunna joins hundreds of thousands of people calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit at a march (Image: Nicola Tree/Getty Images)

“Labour should stop pretending there is a ‘good’ Brexit deal and we should certainly not be sponsoring this project because Brexit is the problem – it solves nothing.” 

Mr Corbyn has been the subject of intense criticism from Remain supporters inside and outside his party after saying he would not back down on Brexit if he won a snap general election. 

Mr Umunna called the Labour leader’s comments “deeply depressing and disappointing”. 

Labour MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting, attacked Mr Corbyn’s remarks and questioned how a Labour Government would be any better than remaining within the EU. 

“Why peddle this myth that Labour would be able to renegotiate a Brexit deal at this 11th hour?” he said. 

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford called Mr Corbyn “the midwife to the delivery of the Tory’s Brexit plans” and said after two years of being on the fence about Brexit, he had finally come off on the same side as Theresa May. 

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Luciana Berger condemned Jeremy Corbyn for his stance on Brexit (Image: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

3.05pm update: Luciana Berger slams Corbyn: ‘Labour will never be forgiven if the party facilitates Brexit’

LUCIANA Berger, Labour MP for Liverpool Wavetree, has slammed Mr Corbyn for saying he would continue with Brexit negotiations if he won an election. 

She said in a tweet: “@UKLabour will never be forgiven if the party facilitates Brexit” while backing a call for a People’s Vote.”

Alastair Campbell joined the condemnation saying Mr Corbyn’s stance on Brexit would see him not only facilitating the UK’s exit from the EU but also losing another election. 

He added: “It’s becoming all too clear the @jeremycorbyn pro-Brexit feelings are much stronger than his listen to members approach.”

Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable accused the Labour leader of turning his back on his supporters and ignoring the potential economic damage of Brexit. 

While Tom Brake, Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington said he was “sad” to read that Mr Corbyn is “as committed” to delivering Brexit as Theresa may. 

He said: “He is hiding behind a big lie that the EU will allow a completely fresh ste of negotiations.”

(Additional reporting by Laura O’Callaghan)

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