Jeremy Corbyn challenges Theresa May to win a Brexit deal Labour can back

Written by Matt Foster on 3 January 2019 in News

Labour leader pursues Brexit deal as poll shows vast majority of party members want a second referendum

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn - John Stillwell/PA

Theresa May should make a fresh attempt to negotiate a Brexit deal Labour can support if MPs reject her plan in a crucial vote this month, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to "renegotiate a customs union" with the EU if she loses the Commons vote - as he rebuffed fresh calls for his own party to start campaigning for a second referendum straight away.

A poll published today found that 72 per cent of Labour's members want a second public vote on Brexit to take place.

The YouGov study of 1,034 Labour members for Queen Mary University and Sussex University found that just 18 per cent opposed a fresh vote.

But, asked yesterday whether Labour would change the party's stance - which is to leave support for a second referendum "on the table" only if a general election does not take place - Corbyn said his party's policy was "sequential".

And he demanded that May follow up any loss in the Commons with a fresh round of EU talks. The vote on the deal - which was pulled before Christmas after May acknowledged she would face almost-certain defeat - is currently slated for the week of January 14.

Corbyn told reporters: "What we will do is vote against having no deal, we'll vote against Theresa May's deal.

"And at that point she should go back to Brussels and say this is not acceptable to Britain and renegotiate a customs union, form a customs union with the European Union to secure trade."

He added: "The issue of another referendum was, of course, one of the options, but that was very much after the votes have taken place in Parliament.

"We haven't yet had a vote and I think the Government really should be ashamed of itself.

"This vote has been delayed and delayed and delayed. It's finally going to take place the second week of January. That is not acceptable, this vote should have taken place more than a month ago.

"This Government is just trying to run down the clock and create a sense of fear between either no deal or May's deal. Well, both of those options are completely unacceptable."

The party's official stance has come under fire from some of its own MPs, who believe the party should be pushing now for a public vote on May's deal.

Luciana Berger of the People's Vote campaign urged her party to take its "head out of the sand" over support for a second referendum.

“Jeremy Corbyn is right to say that the Brexit deal on offer is a bad one," the Labour MP said.

"It will leave us worse off, with less control and will not match the promises that were made in the 2016 referendum.

“But he is wrong to suggest that either he or Theresa May can negotiate a better Brexit deal. No Brexit deal will match the promises made in 2016 because no one can keep promises that are contradictory.

"Any Brexit will be a much worse deal than the one we’ve already got as members of the EU.

"When Parliament votes down the deal the only other choices will be ‘no deal’ or a People’s Vote. No renegotiations are on offer and the EU have been clear that the Irish backstop is unavoidable in all circumstances. It’s time Labour took its head out of the sand on this."

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