Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Jeremy Corbyn sets out Labour’s Brexit plan with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels

Jeremy Corbyn met with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in order to set out Labour's Brexit plan.

The Labour leader travelled to Brussels with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer with the message that no-deal is not acceptable.

Following the meeting, Corbyn told the gathering media: "We've had an interesting and useful discussion with Mr Barnier. We've set out the views of the Labour Party on issues surrounding Brexit, following the conference speeches made by both Keir Starmer and myself.

"We're obviously not negotiating; we're not in government, we're the opposition, but he was interested to know what our views are, the six test that we've laid down by which we'll hold our Government, the British Government to account in future."

Asked what his solutions are for Brexit, Mr Corbyn said: "We made it clear that we do not want a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland."

The visit came just 24 hours after Mr Corbyn used his Labour Party conference speech to say that his party will vote against Theresa May’s Chequers plan “as it stands” and oppose a no-deal Brexit.

Ahead of his meeting with Mr Barnier, Mr Corbyn said: “With just weeks of negotiating time left, it’s clear that UK-EU Brexit talks are in a perilous state.

“Time is running out and companies are losing patience with the absence of any clarity from the Government.

“Crashing out of Europe with no deal risks being a national disaster.

“That is why I’m meeting EU officials today, and I will be urging them to do all they can to avoid a ‘no-deal’ outcome, which would be so damaging to jobs and living standards in both the UK and EU countries.”

Michel Barnier will hear Labour’s propositions for Brexit. Credit: PA

Mr Corbyn said that Labour would call for a general election if Parliament votes down the deal reached by the Prime Minister and Brussels, and told delegates in Liverpool that “all options are on the table” if that fails.

But Mr Corbyn did also reveal that Labour would back a “sensible deal”, saying he would support an outcome that features a customs union and no hard border on the island of Ireland.

Shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner, appearing on ITV’s Peston show, said the party would be willing to make compromises with the Tories to avoid a no-deal.

He said: “If it means compromising, if it means you bending your red line to give us a customs union, we’re prepared to bend our red lines to give, to give this a deal.”

Former home secretary Amber Rudd, also appearing on ITV’s Peston show, revealed that she would “absolutely” support a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU over no-deal. She said: “I don’t think no deal will happen.

“I think that if we can’t get a negotiated deal, that the Prime Minister brings back through Parliament, then I think that we’re in completely uncharted territory.

“I think that one of the outcomes you might get is a Norway style EEA deal, and I know that various colleagues are looking at that.”

Anti-Brexit billboards on the northern side of the border between Newry in Northern Ireland and Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland. Credit: PA

Asked whether she would support a Canada-plus type deal, the likes of which the Tory Brexiteer faction are calling for, she said: “No. I think there are a number of people, in fact I’ve talked to a few colleagues and I reckon there are conservatively about 40 of us who would not support a Canada type deal.

“But to be frank there are so many reasons a Canada type deal doesn’t work, starting with the Irish border, going on to manufacturing that I think we can make those arguments.

“But that just reinforces the point that there is an impasse if the two wings of our party face up to the fact that we have these elements that differentiate us but the rebel group need to think again because I think we’ve only got one shot at a negotiated settlement.”