Labour manifesto to offer vote on Leave and Remain

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionCorbyn: “We will commit to a public vote”

Jeremy Corbyn has promised a further referendum on Brexit with a “credible Leave option” versus Remain if his party wins the next general election.

He said Labour was “ready” for the campaign, but its “priority” was to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Its manifesto will promise to reach a better Brexit deal, but is not expected to commit to either Leave or Remain.

Some senior party figures – close Corbyn allies – say they will campaign to stay in the EU in any circumstances.

They include shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who have both said remaining would be the best thing for the UK – even if the other option is a Labour-negotiated Brexit deal.

Union leaders want Leave on the ballot and met Mr Corbyn earlier to discuss the issue.

The BBCs political correspondent, Iain Watson, said senior Labour figures had been arguing that backing Remain would recover ground lost to the pro-EU Liberal Democrats in recent elections.

Pro-Remain Labour activists are also hoping the party’s conference later this month will commit the leadership to backing Remain under all circumstances.

But, while Labour-affiliated unions – including Unite, who are one of the party’s biggest backers – would rather stay in the EU than have no deal, they believe a Corbyn government should offer voters a choice in a referendum between a negotiated deal and Remain.

‘Ready to unleash’

Speaking to the TUC conference in Brighton on Tuesday, he said: “Our priority is first to stop no-deal and then to trigger a general election.

“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.”

He added: “We’re ready for that election. We’re ready to unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen.

“And in that election we will commit to a public vote with a credible option to leave and the option to remain.”

‘Decisive’ meeting for Corbyn’s Brexit policy

The basis of Labour’s election policy on Brexit became clear today.

Jeremy Corbyn agreed with Labour’s main funders – the affiliated trade unions – that if elected, the party would negotiate a new Brexit deal and put that to a referendum, along with the option to remain.

But the party will not say which option it would back during a general election.

So, during an imminent campaign, the leadership will be unable to tell voters if a future Labour government would advocate coming out or staying in the EU.

The Labour leader has rejected calls from senior figures in the party and grassroots activists to campaign explicitly to Remain during the election, amid fears votes and seats will be lost to the Lib Dems.

Today’s union meeting was described as a senior Labour source as “decisive” in determining policy because the unions are formally represented on the committee which draws up the manifesto, so have huge influence over it.

Labour insiders hope to confine any disagreements on Brexit to a referendum, but sources admit the election campaign will be difficult to manage, as some shadow cabinet members have said they’d personally campaign to Remain even against a Labour deal.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Corbyn also promised to “put power in the hands of workers”, pledging a future Labour government would enact “the biggest extension of rights for workers that our country has ever seen.”

If elected, Labour would set up a specific government department for employment rights, he said, and give the brief to a dedicated cabinet minister.

Enforcement of rights would be boosted by a new agency with the power to enter workplaces and bring prosecutions on behalf of staff, he added.

Where do the other Westminster parties stand on Brexit?

Image copyright Reuters

Conservatives – 288 MPs

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to leave the EU on 31 October “do or die”. He says he wants to leave with a deal, but is willing to exit without one to ensure Brexit goes ahead by the current deadline.

SNP – 35 MPs

The SNP is pro-Remain and wants the UK to stay a member of the EU. It has been campaigning for another referendum on Brexit, and if it were to get one, would support Remain.

Liberal Democrats – 17 MPs

The Lib Dems also want to stay in the EU and have another referendum to achieve their goal – to revoke Article 50 (the law that sees the UK having to leave the bloc).

Democratic Unionist Party – 10 MPs

The DUP has a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives, giving them their support in the Commons. They are backing the PM’s plans to leave the EU with or without a deal at the end of October.

The Independent Group for Change – 5 MPs

This party is made up of MPs who left the Conservatives and Labour because of their positions on Brexit (as well as allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party). They back another referendum, or “People’s Vote”, and want the UK to remain in the EU.

Plaid Cymru – 4 MPs

The Welsh Party backs remaining in the EU, despite Wales voting out in the referendum. They want a further referendum and to Remain.

Green Party – 1 MP

The party’s one MP, Caroline Lucas, has been a vocal campaigner for another referendum and believes the UK should stay in the EU.