Corbyn says going ‘back to the people’ is the ‘only way out of the Brexit crisis’

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Jeremy Corbyn has reiterated his call for a 'public vote' as the 'only way out of the Brexit crisis' - but still wants a general election over a People's Vote.

The Labour leader has been under intense pressure to explicitly back a referendum on Brexit after the European elections saw his party suffer heavy losses, but still appears reluctant to do so.

He said: "Let the people decide the country's future, either in a general election or through a public vote on any deal agreed by parliament.

"For Labour any outcome has to work for our whole country, not just one side of this deliberately inflamed divide."

The Labour leader warned that the Tory leadership contest would damage communities on both sides of the Brexit divide in Britain.

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"Throughout this summer, our politics will be paralysed and our country's future put on hold while the Conservatives are locked in internal conflict over their leadership," he said.

"Jobs and investment will be put at risk in Leave and Remain areas alike.

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"The Tory leadership contest will most likely end with a small number of wildly unrepresentative right wing Conservative activists foisting a no deal zealot on the country.

"The next Tory leader will be yet another unelected prime minister, without the support of the public and with no mandate for whatever form of Brexit he or she supports.

"Since the 2016 referendum, Labour has backed an alternative plan for Brexit that would work for the whole country, protecting jobs and living standards.

"Brexit has not happened because of the sheer incompetence and infighting of the Conservative Party."

In a sign that he would be prepared to work with Tory moderates to prevent a no-deal Brexit, possibly by tabling a confidence motion to bring down the government, Corbyn said he would do "whatever is necessary".

He said: "Labour will work with anyone across party boundaries and do whatever is necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal outcome, which would open the way for a frenzy of deregulation and a race to the bottom in jobs, rights and protections.

Labour MP Bridget Phillipson, a People's Vote supporter, said Corbyn was "at last beginning to listen to what our voters and members are saying" but added there is "no immediate prospect of a general election" so the party should throw its weight behind the People's Vote campaign.

Corbyn's comments on a public vote came ahead of meetings in Dublin with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins.

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