Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party would continue with Brexit if it won a snap general election in the new year.
The opposition leader told the Guardian he would “go back and negotiate and see what the timetable would be” with Brussels if Theresa May triggered a vote and lost, thrusting his party into power.
Meanwhile, work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s behaviour towards women had been “grotesque” after the former Luxembourg prime minister played with a woman’s hair at a European Council meeting.
Corbyn told the paper that he would advocate Brexit if there was a second referendum on the issue, and attacked the bloc over its rules on state aid and competition.
He told the Guardian: “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.”
Asked about Labour’s position if there was a fresh popular vote, he told the paper: “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.”
Eloise Todd, boss of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said the huge shifts in the country towards wanting to stay in were largely Labour voters and new voters changing their minds and wanting to stay in the EU. She said: “Leaving the EU is a problem that was created by the Conservative party and made worse by this current Conservative government. But the Labour leadership risks falling into the Brexit trap set by the Tories. “Labour should understand that a majority of young people want to stay in the EU, more than 70% of their voters want to stay in the EU and a growing majority of around 60% in the country wants to stay in Europe. “Labour needs to stick to its plans to pivot to giving people the final say as soon as a general election is ruled out.’
Meanwhile Rudd, who backed Remain in the referendum, launched a scathing attack on Juncker, labelling him “ghastly”.
Juncker and May were caught on camera having a robust discussion the day after Juncker used a press conference to describe her negotiating strategy as “nebulous”.
Rudd replaced Esther McVey at the Department for Work and Pensions a month ago, having been sacked as home secretary over the Windrush scandal.
In a wide-ranging interview, which will fuel speculation she has leadership ambitions, the Hastings MP was asked about Juncker.
She said: “[He’s] ghastly. What I minded before that were those pictures of the way he was holding the prime minister. I did not like that.”
Discussing the indecent on his arrival at the European Council meeting, she added: “It’s grotesque. I mean, if that happened in our Parliament, I hope there would be a formal complaint.
“When I used to go the EU for meetings, I often had a terrible cold to insist that I didn’t get enveloped in a bear hug.”