Corbyn to make the case for ‘Remain and Reform’ in Europe

The Labour leader delivers his first major pro-EU speech in London this morning

 

Jeremy Corbyn will deliver his first major speech on the EU referendum this morning, arguing that ‘the Labour party is overwhelmingly for staying in, because we believe the European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment, and offers the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century.’

While arguing in favour of international co-operation and collective EU action, Corbyn will also defend his record of EU criticism and emphasise the need for reform:

“Over the years I have continued to be critical of many decisions taken by the EU  and I remain critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services . . . Europe needs to change. But that change can only come from working with our allies in the EU.”

Apparently cautious of repeating Labour’s controversial alliance with the Tories in the Scottish referendum, Corbyn’s speech will attack the Tory government’s resistance to progressive EU reform.

On steel, he will point out that other governments in Europe, including Germany, Italy, France and Spain, have successfully protected their steel industries, indicating that the fundamental problem is not with the EU but with the current UK government.

“The European Commission proposed new tariffs on Chinese steel but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping.Those proposals are still on the table. So today I ask David Cameron and George Osborne to to start sticking up for British steel and work with our willing European partners to secure its future.”

Pointing to the fact that Tory MEPs have consistently voted against attempts to control tax evasion, he believes ‘it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is: for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator, or rogue corporation.’

Corbyn has been extensively criticised in recent months for his failure to take a strong stance on the referendum. Although he argues today that there is ‘a strong socialist case for staying in’, his dogged insistence on the need for reform may be perceived as half-heartedness.

Also this morning, Labour MP Chuka Umunna will deliver a pro-European speech to the Business Centre Association, arguing that British businesses overwhelmingly support Remain and that the Leave campaign, by claiming otherwise, is ‘guilty of selling dodgy goods to the British public.’

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.