Labour would put a “sensible” Brexit deal to the public in a new referendum and abide by the result of the vote, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged – suggesting he will resist calls from party activists to explicitly back Remain.
The party leader said Labour would negotiate new withdrawal terms with the EU if it won the next general election and put them to a popular vote, alongside the option to remain.
“We will give the people the final say on Brexit, with the choice of a credible leave offer and remain,” he wrote in The Guardian.
Mr Corbyn set out the position ahead of Labour’s annual conference, where he is expected to come under increased pressure to explicitly back staying in the EU.
But his comments appear to signal he could adopt a neutral position in any future referendum if he became PM.
Mr Corbyn said: “A Labour government would secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated, including a new customs union with the EU; a close single market relationship; and guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections.
“We would then put that to a public vote against remain, and I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister.
“We are the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain to make the decision.
“[Boris] Johnson wants to crash out with no deal. That is something opposed by business, industry, the trade unions and most of the public – and even by the Vote Leave campaign’s co-convener, Michael Gove, who said earlier this year: ‘We didn’t vote to leave without a deal.’
“And now the Liberal Democrats want MPs to overturn the referendum result by revoking article 50 in a parliamentary stitch-up.
“It is simply undemocratic to override the decision of a majority of the voters without going back to the people.”
Labour activists warned Mr Corbyn this week it would be a “disaster for morale” if the party did not commit its support for Remain at its conference next week.
Michael Chessum, national organiser for the Another Europe is Possible group, whose pro-Remain motion is backed by a number of constituency parties, said: “Labour members are the secret weapon of the party at a general election, and the party ignores them at its peril.
“Support for an explicit Remain stance is evidently overwhelming.”
Marsha de Cordova, shadow minister for disabled people, called on the party to use its conference to end its “fudge” on Brexit.
“There is no middle ground when it comes to campaigning in an EU referendum,” she said. “Our members and activists won’t forgive us if we do that again. It’s time to take a side and expose Brexit as the completely destructive Tory project it is.”
A number of senior shadow cabinet figures, such as Emily Thornberry and John McDonnell, have previously said they would back Remain in a new referendum.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has gone further by calling for another national poll on Brexit before any general election is held.
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