Brexit: Boris Johnson shifting power to wealthy, Corbyn to say

Jeremy CorbynImage copyright Reuters

Jeremy Corbyn will accuse Boris Johnson later of hijacking the 2016 EU referendum result to shift even more power and wealth to those at the top.

He will tell the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference in Brighton that a no-deal Brexit would drive down rights and protections for workers.

The Labour leader is also set to have private discussions on his party’s Brexit policy for a general election.

It comes after MPs rejected a second attempt by the PM to call an election.

Parliament is now suspended for five weeks, until the Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

The shut down comes after royal assent was granted to a new law which will force the PM to seek a Brexit delay to 31 January 2020 unless a deal – or a no-deal exit – is approved by MPs by 19 October.

MPs also approved a motion from Mr Corbyn demanding the government abide by the rule of law.

In response, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government would always uphold the law but the legislation in question was “flawed” and the UK would continue to negotiate on the basis of leaving the EU on 31 October.

In his speech, Mr Corbyn will say the cost of a “reckless” no-deal Brexit will not be borne by Mr Johnson and his “wealthy friends”, but by the “rest of us”.

Mr Corbyn will say a no-deal Brexit will destroy jobs, push up food prices and cause shortages of “everyday medicines”.

“And who bears the cost of that? It wouldn’t be Johnson and his wealthy friends. It’s not their livelihoods on the line. It would be the rest of us,” he will say.

He will say the Conservatives will use a no-deal “crash” to “push through policies that benefit them and their super-rich supporters and hurt everyone else”.

A no-deal Brexit would be a “Trump deal Brexit”, Mr Corbyn will say, which would lead to a “one-sided US trade deal negotiated from a position of weakness”.

He is also set to say Labour will trigger a general election once the risk of a no-deal Brexit has been removed.

“Our priority is, first, to stop no-deal, and then to trigger a general election,” Mr Corbyn will say.

“Amber Rudd’s resignation confirmed that the government is not serious about trying to get a deal in Brussels.

“As the prime minister’s top adviser reportedly said, the negotiations are ‘a sham’.

“No-one can trust the word of a prime minister who is threatening to break the law to force through no-deal.

“So a general election is coming. But we won’t allow Johnson to dictate the terms.”

Amber Rudd, who resigned as work and pensions secretary at the weekend told the BBC there was “very little evidence” the government would get a new deal, and when she asked for details of the efforts she received a “one-page summary”.

Mr Corbyn is also expected to clarify his party’s policy on Brexit this week and is expected to rebuff calls from senior figures in the party to campaign unequivocally for Remain.

Instead he will say voters should be able to choose between what he calls a “credible” leave option and staying in the EU.

Labour has been united in opposing a no-deal Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn will highlight what he sees as its dangers – from destroying jobs to pushing up food prices.

But Labour has been less united over what policies to pursue during a general election campaign.

Senior figures in the party believe that Labour should campaign unequivocally for remain.

They have been arguing that this is the way to recover ground lost to the Lib Dems at the recent European elections.

But the big Labour affiliated unions take a different view. While they’d rather stay in the EU than have no-deal, they believe a Labour government should offer voters a choice in a referendum between a negotiated deal and staying in the EU.

And the Unite union in particular has resisted attempts to transform Labour in to an avowedly remain party.

Jeremy Corbyn is likely to make clear that this is his position too. But pro-EU grassroots activists are hoping this month’s Labour conference will commit the leadership to backing remain under all circumstances.

The Conservatives say Labour is simply offering more dither and delay on Brexit.