Europe

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promises EU referendum; does not say how he will campaign

LONDON (REUTERS) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promised on Wednesday (Sept 18) that if he won power, he would hold an in-out referendum on Brexit but repeatedly declined to say which way he would campaign.

“We are the only party that is offering the people a choice,” Corbyn told reporters, adding that there would be a credible choice between leaving on the terms of a Brexit deal he would have negotiated or whether to remain.

“The people of this country make the final decision,” he said.

“I’m offering the people a choice,” Corbyn said when asked which way he would campaign. “We will carry it out.”

WHAT IS THE BRITISH OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY’S POSITION ON BREXIT?

The Labour Party wants to do everything it can to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking the country out of the European Union without a deal next month, and will also reject any new deal he is able to strike with Brussels.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn instead wants to win an election and then hold a second referendum, offering a choice between remaining in the EU and a new Labour-negotiated exit deal.

So, how would the alternative plan work?

STEP ONE: Delay Brexit to avoid leaving without a deal

Labour argues that leaving the EU without a deal would cause economic disruption and job losses.

To prevent this, the party helped pass a law which requires Johnson to ask the EU to delay Brexit until Jan 31, 2020. The law applies if Johnson is unable to agree an exit deal that is then approved by Parliament, or he fails to get Parliament’s permission to leave without a deal.

However, Labour remains concerned that Johnson could simply ignore this law or find a loophole to try to force a no-deal Brexit on Oct 31. The government says it will stick to the law, but “test to the limit” what is required by it.

STEP TWO: Call an election

Labour argues that an early general election is necessary to defeat Johnson’s Conservative Party and allow Labour to pursue its own exit strategy.

But the party says an election should only be held once the risk of no-deal has been eliminated, and twice rejected Johnson’s attempts to call an election earlier this month.

Labour would back an election if he requests a delay to Brexit.

STEP THREE: Promise a new Brexit referendum

Labour says it would campaign in any election on a promise to hold a second referendum on leaving the EU.

The party says this referendum should be a choice between a credible offer to leave the EU and a choice to remain in the bloc.

STEP FOUR: Win an election

Most recent opinion polls put Labour behind the Conservatives, but the gap varies widely. In the three most recent surveys, Labour trails by 12, 9, and 1 percentage points.

STEP FIVE: Negotiate a new Brexit deal

Labour says it would negotiate a different exit arrangement with the EU, based around a new customs union, a close single market relationship, which it has yet to define, and guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections.

STEP SIX: Hold a referendum

Labour would put this new deal to a public vote, alongside the choice to remain in the EU.

The party has not said which option it would campaign for.

Some members of the party, including senior members of Corbyn’s team, have indicated they would campaign to remain.

Corbyn said in an newspaper article on Wednesday: “I will pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister.”

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