Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is ready to negotiate Brexit
LONDON — Labour is ready to negotiate Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn said ahead of a meeting with Michel Barnier in Brussels on Thursday.
The Labour leader will meet the EU chief negotiator, along with shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.
In quotes released to journalists ahead of the meeting, Corbyn said a “Labour Brexit would look very different,” accusing the Conservatives of “megaphone diplomacy.” He said Labour would conduct relations “respectfully and in the spirit of friendship.”
“Labour is a government in waiting and we are ready to take up the responsibility for Brexit negotiations,” he said.
“Our strong links with our European sister parties gives Labour an advantage in reaching an outcome that works for both sides,” he said.
Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has been plagued by splits over the party’s position on Brexit. In February, 52 of his MPs defied the party whip and voted against triggering Article 50 — the official mechanism that triggered the start of Britain’s EU divorce talks.
In June he sacked three shadow ministers and one resigned, after they defied the party line by abstaining during a vote on an amendment to the queen’s speech calling for the U.K. to stay in the single market, put forward by Labour MP Chuka Umunna.
Labour says it will negotiate a “jobs-first Brexit deal” and would “unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K.”
“Labour wants to work with other countries to build a different Europe, one which promotes human rights and environmental protections, celebrates the positive and complementary contributions of European nations, and where trade is fair and sustainable,” Corbyn said.
Scottish and Welsh first ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones will also meet Barnier at a separate meeting.