EXCLUSIVE: Labour’s new leader in Europe just suggested we can halt Brexit

"This was a narrow result and one won on a pack of lies and it was only an advisory referendum" -- Richard Corbett MEP

Richard Corbett MEP has just been elected as the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP). With that, he gets a place on Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee.

He is therefore, someone of considerable influence within the party – particularly when it comes to European matters.

The MEP spoke to us about the party’s Brexit policy, and the possibility of a second referendum.

Mr Corbett, like a growing number of people in the Labour Party, is keen to emphasise that Brexit is not final.

Indeed, he is open to the possibility of a second referendum.

Whilst we’re heading towards a very costly and damaging Tory Brexit, we should keep all of our options open, because we may well have to oppose that Brexit if it’s going to be a complete disaster.

“When the [Brexit] deal comes back to the House of Commons, it’s almost certain that Labour will be voting against that deal.”

But what happens if voters oppose the deal? 

“If it’s rejected then you have to have an assessment of what we do now: do we reconsider Brexit?

“If so does that need a second referendum…or a referendum on the deal?

“That’s a bridge you can cross when you come to it.”

Labour, and the country, is in no way bound to last year’s referendum result Mr Corbett seemed to say:

“This was a narrow result and one won on a pack of lies. It was only an advisory referendum.”

Mr Corbett compared the referendum to a general election: “[Some in the Labour party said] no, we don’t give up when we lose a general election. We don’t immediately accept what the Tories want to do in government. We fight on.

“Others said that’s the will of the people, you have to accept it. So there was a range of views, and that’s understandable.”

He continued: “But as time moves on, it’s less about the principle of what we should have done in relation to last year’s referendum, it’s increasingly about how we react to next year’s real Brexit as it emerges and that will be what the Tories manage in the end to negotiate as a Brexit deal.

“And what they are negotiating certainly looks like it will be very damaging to the country.”

Asked whether there were strong rifts on Labour’s NEC over Brexit, Mr Corbett said he had yet to attend a meeting but said: “disagreements would be a strong word. There are nuances and a range of views but we’re not split.”

Mr Corbett’s election to the NEC will be heartening to Labour Remainers, less so to opposing factions in the party who would prefer to keep Labour policy on Brexit off the agenda for as long as possible.

Oscar Webb is a staff writer for Left Foot Forward. He tweets here.

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12 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Labour’s new leader in Europe just suggested we can halt Brexit”

  1. Dulari-Leiylah Markelke

    This is the battle to take to tories stop brexit second referendum not on a pack of lies and quickest way to oust tories and that is why referendum for tories is so no no .brexit means brexit insanity stop it asap

  2. Michael

    As Mr Keynes is reputed to have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”

  3. Pete Rose

    Last year, around €450 million was spent on MEPs’ salaries, travel expenses and office costs.
    At €599,201 a year, I’m not surprised that Mr Corbett wants to stop Brexit.

  4. Ian Crickett

    I get totally brassed of with the statement ”will of the people’. I believe 30% of the people didn’t vote. So that’s roughly 51% of 70%, or 35.7% of those eligible, who actually voted for Brexit. A fair proportion of those may well have refrained from voting because they were given so much conflicting
    (mis)information that they felt they couldn’t form a valid opinion. I personally have little doubt how the vote would go now. Few people seem to realise that the result was only supposedly advisory, but the way things have gone since the referendum means that the nation’s whole destiny has to be settled on that one day’s vote?

  5. John Nelson

    The British people were duped by misrepresentations, distortions and knowingly misleading promises made by the Leave campaign. Who flies the flag spouting the benefits that come from EU funding of major infrastructure works, of science and education, of environmental projects, and more. In the UK there is silence on the positives of EU membership, so that the only mention of the EU that the public gets is almost invariably hostile.

    Who are these people disparaging the EU? The Express, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, and the Daily Mail (a collage of its front pages over the years makes an astonishing gallery of hostility and deliberate misinformation). Membership of the EU does produce an enormous amount of good and with improvement could promise even more. Theresa May would turn us in Britain into an offshore island with its voice diminished and no influence whatsoever on the political stage. Surely the ultimate aim of all forward thinking progressive people is to make our European corner of the world a place of peace, co-operation and progress.

  6. Chester Draws

    The worst thing about Remainers is their insistence that only they are righteous. Their side only tells the truth, and the other side tells only lies.

    Grow up! There are lies told by both sides, and there are honest people on both sides. The people of Britain are told lies every election, which they are well aware of.

    This insistence that it was only Brexit lies that won the referendum is profoundly anti-democratic. It says, in essence, that the voters are idiots and don’t know what they are doing.

    Every time the Left ignores all the left-leaning voters who voted Leave they are alienating their own allies. How about you listen to the them, rather than insist on calling them ignorant proles who don’t know what’s best for them?

  7. Chris Lovett

    Well, a cursory look at the demographics of leave voters would seem to indicate that though perhaps they were not “ignorant proles” it does look as though many were uninformed…

  8. Dave

    He is making sense – and saying something that has been the dominant theme on LP leaning FB Pages for months. The LP has to be prepared to go back to the people; to say – this is what is on offer – this is what it will mean …. What do you think? BUT, that will not happen – can not happen as long as May is in no10, and just changing her for Doris will not improve things.

  9. Will

    Personally, I feel that when the so-called “deal” is reached, that would be the time to have a second and truly binding vote. The situation we are in at the moment is totally unknown by the public so how can anyone be happy to accept what this government is saying? All we hear is lies and negative threats.

  10. Jay ginn

    A question:
    If parliament has a vote on the deal and votes against it, what follows?
    – no deal with EU and WTO trade rules? OR
    – some compromise such as Norway has? OR
    – a second referendum, possibly resulting in a Remain majority?
    In the case of the last, would EU allow UK to revert to full membership?

  11. Craig Mackay

    It doesn’t matter how Brexiteers spin things. We were lied to in order to achieve a very marginal result.

    I was unsure about buying a new TV, but told it would pick up all the channels in beautiful full-colour. However I found it wouldn’t get any BBC channels and the picture was black-and-white. The shop said they hoped all these channels would work and in colour but these weren’t guarantees, only aspirations. They said that I had to live with it because that was what I had chosen.

    This is what the Leave campaign want us to accept about the Brexit referendum result. We now know most of their promises were what we used to call “lies”. However they claim this is the “Democratic Will of the People”, despite all their lies.

    For anything else I might buy this would simply be illegal and probably fraud. As a minimum we need to guarantee a rerun of the referendum once we know what sort of deal has been arranged. Nothing less will do.

    More at: http://outsidethebubble.net/2017/06/21/democratic-lies/

  12. Jon Knox

    Where’s he been all this time…?
    But, hey – make room for him… He’s saying exactly what we all should have been saying months ago…!

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