The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn – criticised for failing to take a clear position on Brexit – has said the only way out of the political crisis was to hold a general election or a second “public vote on any deal agreed by parliament”.
Labour has come under fire for sitting on the fence over Brexit and it remains unclear whether the party would back Leave or Remain in the next general election.
The party’s approach to Brexit — dubbed “constructive ambiguity” — saw them get hammered at the ballot box during EU elections last week, losing half of their 20 seats in the European Parliament and finishing in third place behind the staunchly anti-Brexit Lib Dems and the newly-formed Brexit Party.
Speaking ahead of meetings with the Irish President and Prime Minister in Dublin, Corbyn said on Wednesday Labour would “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.
“But faced with the threat of ‘No Deal’ and a Prime Minister with no mandate, the only way out of the Brexit crisis ripping our country apart is now to go back to the people. Let the people decide the country’s future, either in a general election or through a public vote on any deal agreed by parliament.”
Some rival candidates vying to take over from outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May as premier and leader of the Conservative Party including frontrunner Boris Johnson have said Britain must be prepared to leave the EU without a deal if necessary.
Corbyn said the country faced a summer in which “our politics will be paralysed and our country’s future put on hold while the Conservatives are locked in internal conflict over their leadership.
“Jobs and investment will be put at risk in Leave and Remain areas alike.” He added: “The Tory leadership contest will most likely end with a small number of wildly unrepresentative rightwing 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.” May will quit as Conservative leader on June 7, with the new premier due to be in place before July 20.
Britain is due to leave the bloc on October 31, while the next general election is not due until 2022.