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Jeremy Corbyn now backs 'remain' - but only if the other options are a Tory Brexit or no deal

Yesterday, Labour’s five trade unions agreed to back Remain in what marked a significant shift for the party.

Image: Peter Byrne

THE UK’S LABOUR party has conditionally backed holding another Brexit referendum in which it would support remaining in the EU.

Labour will now challenge whoever wins the Conservative Party leadership race and becomes prime minister to put any Brexit deal they strike with the EU to a referendum, “with remain on the ballot, in which Labour would campaign for remain,” the party said.

The issue has divided the party since the referendum result: many of its voters in working-class areas voted to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum of 2016. But the majority of Labour MPs strongly support remaining in the EU.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose held eurosceptic views for the bulk of his career, had resisted strong pressure to back another vote. But he relented after Labour-affiliated trade unions agreed yesterday to support the move.

In an interview with the BBC, Corbyn said Labour was now the “party of choice” when it came to Brexit. When asked whether he’s changed his views because of pressure from party colleagues, Corbyn said “Not a bit of it. I’ve been listening and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Fear over ‘no deal’ divorce

The party’s previous policy was to respect the 2016 referendum, but the chaotic process of leaving the EU has made citizens more cynical about their government and emboldened those hoping to stay in.

“As democrats, Labour accepted the result of the 2016 referendum,” Corbyn wrote in an email to party members.

“In our 2017 manifesto, Labour also committed to oppose a no-deal Brexit and the Tories’ Brexit plans,” he added, calling on the incoming prime minister to hold a general election.

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is stepping down this month after failing to get her EU divorce plan through parliament.

The two men vying to replace her, frontrunner Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, have both said they were willing to take Britain out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

However, the majority of members of parliament – including Labour – are against a no deal option, fearing dire economic consequences that economists, trade experts, and the Chancellor Philip Hammond have warned of.

But neither Hunt nor Johnson supports the idea of a second referendum. If the political deadlock continues, many in Westminster believe a snap election is inevitable.

- with reporting from AFP

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