Europe’s centre-left parties must reject the establishment – or watch the populist far-right win across the continent, Jeremy Corbyn has warned.
In a speech to Labour’s European sister parties, at the Party of European Socialists conference in Prague, the Labour leader warned that the populist right had correctly identified problems with the prevailing economic model.
But he argued the solutions of those anti-immigrant, anti-EU, and anti-Islam parties were only “toxic dead ends” that would not solve people’s problems.
Mr Corbyn’s comments come a day before Austria votes in a rerun of its presidential election – in which a far-right Norbert Hofer could be on the verge of victory.
Other countries across Europe have also seen extreme right-wingers poised to take power, with the Freedom Party leading in the polls in Austria and the Front National set to make the final round of the French presidential election.
“Politics has been shaken across the world. As socialists and progressives, we know very well why the populist right is gaining ground, and it is up to us to offer the political leadership needed for a real alternative,” Mr Corbyn told other leaders on Saturday.
“We know the gap between rich and poor is widening; we know living standards are stagnating or falling and insecurity is growing; we know that many people rightly feel left behind by the forces unleashed by globalisation, powerless in the face of deregulated corporate power.
“In many cases the populist right do identify the right problems, but their solutions are toxic dead ends of the past.
“They are political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way for taking back real control of our lives the elites who serve their own interests.
“But unless progressive parties and movements break with a failed economic and political establishment, it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap.”
Mr Corbyn also called for centre-left parties to work together across the continent to come to the best solution on Brexit negotiations.
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He has organised a conference of socialist parties across Europe in London for February to discuss alternatives to the Government’s Brexit plans.
After the conference the Labour leader was set to travel to nearby Terezin, a former concentration camp and Jewish ghetto which now hosts a museum and memoral to the Holocaust.