Labour leadership debate: Owen Smith accuses Jeremy Corbyn of being ‘10 out of 10’ for leaving the European Union

Power cut provides light relief during bad tempered hustings in Gateshead

Tom Peck
Gateshead
Thursday 11 August 2016 21:07
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Owen Smith accuses Jeremy Corbyn of being ‘10 out of 10’ for leaving the European Union

Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith argued over Brexit at a very bad tempered leadership hustings in Gateshead, that was briefly interrupted when the lights went out.

Mr Smith, who was scarcely able to answer a question throughout the ninety minute event without being booed by Mr Corbyn’s supporters, accused the Labour leader of being “10 out of 10” for leaving the European Union.

“Jeremy himself admitted he was seven out of 10 in terms of his faith in the European Union. He said it,” Mr Smith said.

“What's been disappointing since is that, having not made the effort we should have made, Jeremy's been 10 out of 10 when it comes to leaving Europe.”

Mr Corbyn, who campaigned for Remain during the referendum campaign, asked his opponent if he “can read minds.”

“You don’t need to be a mind reader,” Mr Smith told him. “You’ve been saying it for forty years.”

Owen Smith was doubled over with laughter following a power cut which plunged the debate into temporary darkness

Earlier, Mr Corbyn was answering a question on renewable energy when the lights failed and the room was plunged into darkness.

“Our message to the rest of the world,” he said, “Is that... oh the lights have gone out.”

As the emergency lights kicked in, Mr Smith was bent over with laughter.

Mr Smith confirmed his support for a second referendum, saying: “We should still be fighting harder, and if I were the leader I would be saying to the country 'let's negotiate hard, let's demand that our mandate, because our people voted In by and large, is properly observed. Let's argue alongside the Tories for a proper Brexit'.

”If it's worse... if it turns out we've been lied to, on the NHS, on immigration, then we should fight to stay in, that's what leadership on Europe would look like for this country.“

Mr Smith argued that Labour can only return to power when it is winning “in Nuneaton and Kingswood” and a number of other swing seats that have decided recent elections. Nuneaton and Kingswood both voted to leave the EU.

Mr Corbyn said the party must focus on making sure protections to workers’ rights that are currently guaranteed by the European Union are not lost through leaving.

”We have to have a strategy which builds the best possible relationship with our sister parties and unions all across Europe, whether they're part of the EU or not.

“A referendum has taken place and I think we have to recognise that, whatever we feel about it, there is a result from that referendum which we have to work with.”

With the final question, both men were asked whether they would serve in a shadow Cabinet under the other. Mr Smith told Mr Corbyn: “I have lost confidence in you. I do not want my work to be fruitless. I do not want to serve in a protest movement.”

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