JEREMY Corbyn hemmed and hawed yesterday over whether Labour may back Tory PM May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill which she intends to put before parliament in early June, if she survives that long.
Writing in yesterday’s Sunday Times newspaper, May said she intends to make a ‘bold offer’ to Labour.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr said to Corbyn yesterday morning: ‘You will have seen probably some briefings in the papers this morning suggesting that Theresa May is going to come back to you with various offers, including a separate piece of legislation to entrench dynamic workers’ rights in law. Would you vote for that if it came up?’
Corbyn replied: ‘If a bill comes up which entrenches workers’ rights in law, obviously we’d look at it very carefully in parliament.
‘All that’s been offered so far is to say they would accept the rights as they are from the European Union at the present time and parliament would have the opportunity to align itself with them in the future.’
Marr said: ‘If she brought back something like that and said “I’ll put it into law”, presumably that’s what you want.’
Corbyn replied: ‘We would obviously look at it very carefully in parliament and we would obviously reserve our right either to amend it or oppose it depending on what’s in it, but I can’t give it a blank cheque.’
Earlier, Corbyn had valiantly continued to try and show that he was on both sides at the same time after Marr asked him: ‘Do you want to leave the EU?’ to which he replied: ‘I want us to get a good deal and then put it back to a decision of the public after that.’
‘So you want to get out of the EU?, said Marr.
‘No,’ replied Corbyn. ‘What we fought the general election on was to respect the result of the referendum and that we’ve done, to try to get a deal which guarantees trade and relations with Europe in the future and if we can get that through parliament, the proposals we’ve put, then I think it would be reasonable to have a public vote to decide on that in the future.’
Marr persisted: ‘I just want to be absolutely clear. Does Labour want to leave the EU?’
Corbyn replied: ‘We said all along, we respect the result of the general election, obviously, we accept the result of the referendum.’
Marr pursued the question, saying: ‘I want to know about you, yourself. Do you yourself wish to leave the EU?’
Corbyn replied: ‘I voted to remain in the EU in the referendum. Indeed, I campaigned to remain and reform the EU. That was the position of the Labour Party in the referendum and the position we’ve taken.’
Marr said: ‘What I was really asking is where you stand now? When it comes to a referendum, are you in favour of another referendum or not?’
Corbyn replied: ‘Our party’s view, taken at conference, was that we should keep the option of a public vote there on the table to make a decision which would be a public vote on what comes out of that parliamentary view. At the moment there’s no decision to come out of parliament.’
Marr said: ‘The word option suggests that you could or could not go for another referendum. I’m just asking which it is.’
Corbyn replied: ‘We would want a vote in order to decide what the future would be, so yes.’
Marr responded: ‘So it’s not just me that’s confused about some of this. Only 13% in a recent poll of voters thought that your position as a Labour Party on Brexit was clear, which is pretty catastrophic from your point of view.’
Marr said: ‘If there’s a vote on a motion to revoke Article 50, I’m interested at how Jeremy Corbyn would vote on a revoke Article 50 motion.’
Corbyn replied: ‘We’re not supporting revocation of Article 50.’
Marr then asked: ‘What about a motion to put all of this back to the people in another referendum. Do you support that or not?’
Corbyn replied: ‘I think if there’s any future public vote, it has to be on the basis of some credible option that’s put forward.’