Labour MPs slam Cor­byn for say­ing ‘we can’t stop’ Brexit

Gulf Times - - BRITAIN - By Mattha Busby

Cor­byn ac­cused of ‘dere­lic­tion of duty’ af­ter say­ing he can­not agree with Jo John­son’s call for fresh vote

Labour MPs have crit­i­cised Jeremy Cor­byn af­ter he an­nounced “we can’t stop” Brexit just two months af­ter he de­clared in his con­fer­ence speech that “all op­tions are on the ta­ble”.

In an in­ter­view with Der Spiegel pub­lished on Fri­day, the Labour leader re­newed his crit­i­cism of the Eu­ro­pean Union’s eco­nomic pol­icy and called upon the en­tire coun­try to “recog­nise the rea­sons why peo­ple voted leave”.

This comes af­ter the trans­port min­is­ter Jo John­son re­signed from the govern­ment and ac­cused Theresa May of of­fer­ing MPs a choice be­tween “vas­salage and chaos”, prompt­ing re­newed calls for a sec­ond vote (see lead re­port).

Asked yes­ter­day if he could agree with John­son’s call for a new ref­er­en­dum, Cor­byn said: “Not re­ally, no. The ref­er­en­dum took place. The is­sue now has to be how we bring peo­ple to­gether, bring peo­ple to­gether around the prin­ci­ples of our econ­omy, our rights, and that we don’t turn this coun­try into some kind of off­shore tax haven on the lines that Don­ald Trump might want us to.”

Cor­byn said any Brexit deal brought to the Com­mons by the govern­ment would need to be mea­sured against Labour’s six tests for a with­drawal agree­ment.

He said: “We will test the govern­ment against our six ques­tions. Our six points will be put to them and we will vote ac­cord­ingly.

“If it means we vote against the govern­ment, we vote against the govern­ment. If it’s de­feated, it means they’ve got a choice – ei­ther go back and ne­go­ti­ate some­thing bet­ter or re­sign.

“They’re ques­tions about the ben­e­fits to ev­ery part of the UK. They’re ques­tions about the North­ern Ire­land bor­der, they’re ques­tions about the kind of reg­u­la­tory frame­work in which we’ll live.

“I think those things are very im­por­tant and, surely, it’s the duty of par­lia­ment and duty of the op­po­si­tion to hold the govern­ment to ac­count on this and that’s what we’ll do.”

How­ever, Labour MP Wes Street­ing called on the party to make the “full-throated case” for a peo­ple’s vote.

“Labour can­not sit by and al­low the choice to be be­tween the eco­nomic ruin of a hard Brexit or the loss of sovereignty un­der Theresa May’s deal, with Bri­tain sub­jected to EU rules but with no say over them,” he said. “As with any fork in the road, there is al­ways the op­tion of turn­ing back home.

“We know this is a mess made by the Tories, but the Labour party can’t just sit back and watch. It’s time for all of us in the Labour party to make the fullthroated case for a peo­ple’s vote with the op­tion of re­main­ing in the Eu­ro­pean Union.”

“That lead­er­ship must now come from the top, or our party may never be for­given for the con­se­quences that fol­low,” he added.

At the party con­fer­ence, Labour del­e­gates left open the pos­si­bil­ity of back­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum if it could not force a gen­eral elec­tion.

Chris Leslie, an­other Labour MP, called for the pub­lic to have the fi­nal choice and ac­cused Cor­byn of a “dere­lic­tion of duty”.

“With even Tory min­is­ters recog­nis­ing that Brexit threat­ens the poor­est in so­ci­ety, our pub­lic ser­vices and Bri­tain’s place in the world, to have a Labour leader just shrug about it, then go awol (ab­sent with­out leave), is noth­ing short of a dere­lic­tion of duty,” he said.

The Labour MP and for­mer lead­er­ship con­tender Chuku Umunna said in a tweet that the party would never be for­given if it ig­nored the wishes of Labour mem­bers and opted not to call for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

“We can stop this Tory Brexit but, ul­ti­mately, it should be for the peo­ple to de­cide,” he said. “A large ma­jor­ity of Labour mem­bers, sup­port­ers and vot­ers not only want a peo­ple’s vote but to change our coun­try in the EU. If the party sets its face against this, it will never be for­given.”

Cor­byn, a long-stand­ing Euroscep­tic, has seem­ingly been mind­ful that a sig­nif­i­cant amount of Labour vot­ers opted to leave in the June 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

In the Der Spiegel in­ter­view, he crit­i­cised the ne­olib­eral eco­nomic poli­cies that are fun­da­men­tal to the EU, say­ing work­ing con­di­tions had de­te­ri­o­rated in de­prived ar­eas of the UK, de­spite be­ing pro­tected by Eu­ro­pean leg­is­la­tion, and com­mit­ted the party to en­hanc­ing work­ers’ rights in govern­ment.

About 700,000 peo­ple ral­lied for a new Brexit ref­er­en­dum last month, the sec­ond largest march in re­cent mem­ory, with con­ster­na­tion cen­tred on the govern­ment’s ap­par­ent fail­ure to se­cure an ac­cept­able deal.

How­ever, there are con­cerns that a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum could em­bolden the far-right in the UK, while Euroscep­tics point to ex­am­ples where votes within EU mem­ber states re­ject­ing greater fed­er­al­ism and aus­ter­ity have been over­turned in what they say is yet more ev­i­dence that there is a “demo­crat deficit” within the union.

Cor­byn: We will test the govern­ment against our six ques­tions. Our six points will be put to them and we will vote ac­cord­ingly.

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