ANTI-BREXIT Labour MPs have responded with fury to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s insistence on Saturday that it is Labour Party policy to leave the European Union. In an interview printed in The Guardian newspaper on Saturday, Corbyn stated that Labour will continue with Brexit if the party wins a snap general election in the new year.
‘You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,’ he said.
Corbyn underlined the fact that he cannot set Labour’s policy unilaterally, saying: ‘I’m not a dictator of the party.’ He said he would seek to secure a better deal with Brussels than the one struck by Theresa May to allow the UK to leave EU on 29th March.
He said: ‘My proposal at this 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.’ In the interview Corbyn also attacked the EU over its rules outlawing state subsidy of industry, saying: ‘I think the state aid rules do need to be looked at again, because quite clearly, if you want to regenerate an economy, as we would want to do in government, then I don’t want to be told by somebody else that we can’t use state aid in order to be able to develop industry in this country.’
As to what stance Labour would take in the event of a second referendum, Corbyn said: ‘It would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this 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.’
He said Labour is ‘very ready’ to fight a general election, if the impasse at Westminster resulted in a snap poll – and asked if he was ready to become prime minister, he replied: ‘Yes. Absolutely.’
In response, pro-remain Labour MPs tore into Corbyn. Pat McFadden, a former Labour business minister, said: ‘It would be a tragedy if Jeremy Corbyn facilitated Brexit and continued his lifelong hostility to the European Union on the basis of his views of the state-aid rules.’
Ilford North Labour MP Wes Streeting said: ‘Our members and voters are overwhelmingly pro-European. This lets them, and our country, down.’ Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said her party would never be forgiven if it facilitated Brexit. Former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna described Corbyn’s remarks as ‘depressing’.
Meanwhile, the Tory Party is also on the verge of splitting. Tory Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom said that ‘no deal’ is the ‘legal default position’ if the UK leaves the EU in March without a deal in place.
She said: ‘Parliament can always of course express a view, but in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, parliament does need to vote for a deal. ‘The legal default position is that if there isn’t a deal then the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal.’
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph Leadsom gave her support for a ‘managed no deal’, which would see the UK reflect EU rules during an implementation period while making several mini-deals on aviation and trade. Leadsom’s plan would be an alternative to May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement should it not pass through the House Commons.
Three Conservative MPs – Nick Boles, Anna Soubry, and Sarah Wollaston – have said they will resign the whip if a no deal Brexit becomes official government policy. Justice Secretary David Gauke suggested he would also quit the government in those circumstances.