Corbyn disappoints Labour supporters as he rules out a second referendum

PUBLISHED: 11:56 28 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 28 January 2018

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today

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Jeremy Corbyn disappointed Labour members and supporters today as he explicitly ruled out supporting a second EU referendum.

A week after a poll showed 51% of Labour’s potential pool of support backs a second referendum on the final Brexit deal, against 23% who oppose the idea, the leader told the BBC's Andrew Marr that the party would not back it.

Mr Marr asked Mr Corbyn why, when even former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has suggested he could back a second referendum, Labour would not, Mr Corbyn said his position was for a vote in Parliament rather than a public vote.

He said: "What we've asked for, and demanded in Parliament, has been a meaningful vote in Parliament at the end of it so MPs... and what happened with this bill was it was an undemocratic power grab by the government.

"We're not asking for a second referendum."

Asked by Mr Marr whether he would be, Mr Corbyn responded: "No."

The unequivocal statement comes a week after a poll for the Observer put pressure on Mr Corbyn to shift party policy on Brexit by revealing a substantial majority of existing and potential Labour voters want him to back permanent membership of the EU’s single market and customs union.

But Mr Corbyn again ruled this out today, saying Labour wanted "a form of customs union" with the EU.

He added: "Whether it would be the customs union answer, no, because it would require being a member of the EU which we are not."

He also said that Norway's relationship with the EU was not an exact model to be replicated, as some have suggested.

Norway is part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which operates alongside the European Union and participates in the single market.

Mr Corbyn sad that Labour would want to have influence on its traditional relationships after Brexit, saying: "Norway accepts all the rules of the single market, doesn't have any ability to influence them whatsoever, and is a rather different economy to ours, because it's heavily dependent on mainly oil. We're not."

Mr Corbyn said Labour "could work with EFTA countries on that relationship", adding: "The principle has to be the trade relationship, and that's what we're focused on, and whatever we need to negotiate, we will."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable criticised Mr Corbyn's comments.

"As has long been suspected, Labour's leadership is moving closer and closer to the Conservatives' Hard Brexit, which would damage the economy and cost jobs," he said.

"They are betraying their own members and parliamentary base, who want to remain part of the customs union and single market.

"Rather than ruling out the Liberal Democrats' increasingly popular call for a vote on the terms of any deal -which would include an exit from Brexit - they should be doing their job as the official opposition and backing the public to have the final say."

Also on the Marr programme, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, Theresa May's new de facto deputy, said Britain would "have the option" to diverge from EU rules after the Brexit transition period.

He said: "Of course we will have the power to choose for ourselves whether or not to diverge once we have left the supranational legal structures of the EU.

"It is then the matter for a British government and a British Parliament to decide, well there may be some areas as the PM set out in Florence where we want to achieve, frankly, the similar objective to the EU27, but to do it in a different way.

"There may be other areas where actually we decide no, actually we have a slightly different objective in this area, [and] others where we're trying to do the same objective through exactly the same means in which case it makes sense for those areas to work very closely together."

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