Jeremy Corbyn hints he would stay neutral in new Brexit referendum

Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hinted again he would remain neutral in a new Brexit referendum.

He was writing for the Guardian ahead of Labour's annual conference, where Corbyn is expected to come under increased pressure to explicitly back staying in the EU.

The Labour leader said that the party would negotiate a new Leave agreement with the EU if it wins the next general election and then put that to the popular vote along with a Remain option.

Corbyn said: "A Labour government would secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated, including a new customs union with the EU; a close single market relationship; and guarantees of workers' rights and environmental protections.

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"We would then put that to a public vote against Remain, and I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister.

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"We are the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain to make the decision.

"(Boris) Johnson wants to crash out with no deal. That is something opposed by business, industry, the trade unions and most of the public - and even by the Vote The comments appeared to signal that Corbyn could adopt a neutral position in any future referendum if he became PM.

A number of senior shadow cabinet figures, such as Emily Thornberry and John McDonnell, have said they would back Remain in a new referendum with McDonnell not dismissing the idea he could end up on a different side to Corbyn during campaigning.

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Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield and a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said that staying neutral is not an option.

"Harold Wilson, who took a back seat in the 1975 referendum, made it clear he wanted to stay in Europe. And it's clear that the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs, party members and voters - including in so-called heartland areas - want the UK to be inside the EU.

"That's because our outward-looking and internationalist values tell us that working with other countries across borders is the best way to tackle big challenges such as climate change, corporate tax evasion and raging inequality.

"At next week's party conference, our party will not only show that we're backing a People's Vote on a No Deal, a Tory Deal or a new deal agreed by a Labour government - but we will also show we're a party that recognises that any form of Brexit is not as good as staying in the EU."

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