Launching his party’s campaign for this month’s European elections, the Labour leader insisted the “option of a public vote” on any deal agreed between the Government and the EU should remain on the table. He also refused to apologise for Labour’s confusing stance over the UK’s departure. “It’s said that Labour is trying to offer something to everyone over Brexit. I make no apology for that,” he said. Mr Corbyn promised that his party was taking the European elections on May 23 seriously during the campaign launch in Chatham, Kent.
But he faced questions from local Labour activists concerned that the party’s refusal to rule out a second referendum had infuriated many voters.
One activist warned that ignoring the Leave vote of more than 17 million was at odds with democracy.
Another told the Labour leader: “While I was out campaigning, there were many people who were angry that Brexit didn’t happen and they would rather have no deal.”
Labour’s manifesto for the elections offered little hope for Theresa May in her quest to thrash out a cross-party Brexit deal.
Mr Corbyn pointed out that the Labour Party conference had agreed “that we should include the option of having a ballot on a public vote on the outcome of the talks and negotiations on what we’re putting forward”.
The Labour leader said: “I would want that to be seen as a healing process, and bringing this whole process to a conclusion.
But Tosh McDonald, president of Labour supporting rail union Aslef, yesterday said: “People are fed up of referendums because it’s the last thing the country needs. We need to bring Britain back together.”
Speaking of cross-party talks with Mrs May, Mr Corbyn said: “So far in those talks, there has been no big offer, and the red lines remain.”
Downing Street officials said that further talks will be held next week.
Mrs May’s spokesman said: “Clearly there remain outstanding matters that need to be nailed down.”