Jeremy Corbyn says Labour could still back second referendum if Brexit deal rejected

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke in Coventry on Saturday. Credit: PA

Labour could still back a second Brexit referendum, according to Jeremy Corbyn, after he urged Theresa May to accept his demands for a deal.

The Labour leader said the option of a public vote remained on the table – in line with the policy agreed following marathon negotiations at his party's conference in 2018.

Mr Corbyn had faced a backlash from pro-EU Labour MPs after setting out his conditions for accepting a Brexit deal in a letter to the Prime Minister.

But Mr Corbyn said the party's policy remained as set out following the party conference – to call for a general election if Mrs May cannot get a deal through Parliament and then to keep all options open.

In a speech in Coventry, Mr Corbyn accused Mrs May of an "utterly cynical" and "reckless" attempt to run down the clock before the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29.

He said Labour's plan "could win the support of Parliament and bring the country together" but Mrs May has so far "chosen the path of division".

"If she is unable to adopt a sensible deal because it would split the Tories, then the answer is quite simple: there must be a general election," Mr Corbyn said.

The prime minister survived a confidence motion in her government tabled by Mr Corbyn, which could have led to an election, after her Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs in January.

Mr Corbyn said that without an election "we will keep all options on the table – as agreed in our conference motion -including the option of a public vote".

He said: "The country cannot be taken over the cliff edge for the sake of Tory party unity."

The Labour leader said Mrs May must drop her "damaging red lines" on Brexit and insisted his plan "can break the impasse" in Parliament.

In his letter to Mrs May, the Labour leader set out five demands:

  • A permanent customs union to deliver frictionless trade and help avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland

  • Close alignment with the single market, including shared institutions

  • Alignment on rights and protections so that UK standards keep pace with those across Europe as a minimum

  • Participation in EU agencies and funding programmes

  • Unambiguous agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases