Brexit: what does Labour want now?


The considerable costs of a no-deal Brexit would fall on working people rather than Boris Johnson and his “wealthy friends”, Jeremy Corbyn has warned.

Addressing the Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Brighton today, the Labour leader confirmed that his party does not want Britain to leave the EU without an agreement and criticised the prime minister’s “reckless” pursuit of a withdrawal by 31 October with or without a deal, The Independent reports.

The Tory government would capitalise on no-deal to “push through policies that benefit them and their super-rich supporters, and hurt everyone else”, Corbyn said.

So what does the Labour Party want from Brexit?

General election

Over the course of Brexit negotiations, Corbyn has repeatedly called for a general election, with the goal of taking power from the Tories and letting Labour strike a new deal with the EU.

But over the past week, he has twice refused to back Johnson’s calls for an early return to the polls. Both motions put forward by the PM were defeated.

Corbyn – along with the heads of other opposition parties – has said that he will only agree to an election when a 31 October no-deal Brexit has been ruled out.

The bill blocking such an exit was passed by the Commons on Monday, meaning the PM must go back to the EU and ask for an extension until 31 January, unless MPs vote for a deal, or no-deal.

Corbyn today told TUC delegates that once it is clear that Johnson has definitely ruled out a no-deal Brexit, Labour’s next act will be “to trigger a general election”.

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“So a general election is coming. But we won’t allow Johnson to dictate the terms,” he added.

“And I can tell you this: we’re ready for that election. We’re ready to unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen.”

Getting rid of Johnson

Corbyn said last month that ousting Johnson through a vote of no confidence was still “very much there on the table”, but that he would only put forward such a vote “when we can be confident of success”.

Parliament has now been suspended until 14 October, when a new parliamentary session will start with a Queen’s Speech setting out the Government’s agenda.

But according to The Telegraph, Labour is planning to vote down the Queen’s Speech on 21 or 22 October and then table a confidence vote in Johnson.

Corbyn reportedly hopes that a defeat of the speech could provide the momentum required for rebel Tory MPs to join the opposition in voting against the already controversial PM.

A Labour source told the newspaper: “If he loses the Queen’s speech, you still have to have the confidence vote. The question is whether those Tory rebels will vote with us.”

If Johnson did lose a confidence vote, Corbyn would have 14 days to gather support from MPs to lead a temporary government.

If he were able to do so, he could request a further Brexit extension – if the 31 January extension had not already been agreed – and call a general election.

A second referendum

Labour backs holding a second referendum to give voters a final say on whatever deal can be struck with the EU.

Corbyn is set to clarify his party’s position on Brexit this week, after rejecting calls from senior figures in his party to campaign unequivocally for Remain ahead of any second EU vote, says the BBC.

If elected, Labour would instead offer voters a choice between a “credible” Leave option – probably a Labour negotiated, soft Brexit deal – and remaining in the EU.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says “big Labour affiliated unions” are behind Corbyn’s reluctance to back Remain.

“The Unite union, in particular, has resisted attempts to transform Labour in to an avowedly Remain party. Jeremy Corbyn is likely to make clear that this is his position too,” says Watson.



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