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Jeremy Corbyn WILL accept second Brexit referendum if Labour conference votes for it - and plans to use Tory rebels to topple Theresa May

Mirror logo Mirror 23/09/2018 Nigel Nelson
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Jeremy Corbyn plans to use Tory Brexit rebels to force PM Theresa May into a General Election as early as November.

And the Labour leader will reluctantly back a second EU referendum if his party conference calls for it.

In his only newspaper interview as delegates gathered in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn said: “If this Government can’t deliver Brexit then it must move over and have a General Election.”

Jeremy Corbyn wearing a suit and tie: The Labour leader hopes to be in Downing Street in a matter of weeks © Peter Powell The Labour leader hopes to be in Downing Street in a matter of weeks

To do this Mr Corbyn’s MPs and Tories from Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ­European Research Group of ­Brexiteers would vote together against Mrs May’s Chequers plan.

Labour set six tests for any final deal including a strong relationship with Europe, the same rights, protections and benefits we have now and fair migration to boost Britain’s economy.

Jacob Rees-Mogg wearing glasses and looking at the camera © Credits: Getty Images Europe

Mr Corbyn said: “Chequers does not meet them. We are not happy with it and we would vote against it.

“That could trigger a General ­Election and we’re ready for it.”

Mrs May has agreed to give Parliament a vote on a final Brexit deal.

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That was due next month but is likely now to slip into November.

With 40 Tory MPs signalling they will vote against any deal based on Chequers that means the PM is left with nothing.

Technically she has 21 days to find an alternative.

Theresa May wearing a suit and tie © Credits: Jack Taylor

But Mrs May is clear it’s Chequers or no deal. And losing a Commons vote she has staked her premiership on could mean going back to the polls for the third time in three years.

She won plaudits for Friday’s tough-talking No10 statement following EU leaders ambushing her at their Salzburg Brexit summit when they tried to torpedo Chequers.

The PM demanded Europe shows Britain respect and gives ground. Mr Corbyn says that was ill-advised.

He added: “Clearly negotiations didn’t go well in Salzburg but condemning everyone else in the room isn’t very helpful.

“Of course everyone should show respect for each other, including the EU for Britain.

"But we’re 26 months in from the referendum and we’re still at base camp. It’s extremely serious.”

John McDonnell wearing a suit and tie © Credits: Getty Images Europe

Mrs May is still grappling with major issues like the customs union and the Irish border.

But Mr Corbyn is also under pressure – to agree to a second referendum on either a final deal or whether to stay in the EU if there is no deal.

He has been reluctant to commit himself.

A poll by People’s Vote campaigners showed nearly 90 per cent of Labour Party members back another ­referendum.

Three-quarters would like to see a commitment in Labour’s manifesto.

And 93 per cent would vote to stay in the EU if they were given a chance.

Mr Corbyn remains unconvinced of the wisdom of a second vote, but he faces a conference motion this week which could force his hand.

a man standing on a sidewalk holding an umbrella © Credits: Getty Images Europe

He said: “What comes out of conference I will adhere to. But I’m not calling for a second referendum. I hope we will agree that the best way of resolving this is a General Election.

“But I was elected to empower the members of the party. So if conference makes a decision I will not walk away from it and I will act accordingly.”

Mrs May said: “Advocating a second referendum and extending article 50 to delay Brexit is sending us right back to square one.

“Many in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP are trying to thwart Brexit at every step.”

a man wearing a suit and tie © Credits: REUTERS

Mr Corbyn has had a bruising summer beset by accusations of anti-semitism against both the party and him personally.

And the row has not gone away with a survey published today by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which shows four in 10 British Jews would consider emigrating, up from 31 per cent last year.

Nine in 10 of those considering leaving say they believe Labour harbours anti-Semites – more than twice as many who said the same of UKIP.

Mr Corbyn said of the allegations made against him personally: “I found it very hurtful.

"I’ve spent my life campaigning against racism.

“I campaigned against apartheid. So any allegation like that is personally hurtful.

a man wearing a suit and tie © Credits: Daily Mirror

“But I do recognise that the rise in anti-Semitism across Europe is awful, frightening and dangerous. We have to be resolute that we will not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of racism – and I won’t.”

Before meeting Mr Corbyn I asked Abdul Abouker, 30, one of his bodyguards in Liverpool, what I should ask the Labour leader.

He replied: “How does he deal with all the stress?”

So I do... and Mr Corbyn tells me he runs, exercises, reads and tends his allotment.

What to do if Chequers is chucked?

Theresa May’s so-called Chequers plan got short shrift in Salzburg – but what are the alternatives which EU leaders insist we choose from?

  • There’s the Norway model which means membership of the European Economic Area and access to the EU’s single market. The downside is we would still contribute billions into the EU and have to accept freedom of movement. Our borders would not be our own.
  • There’s the Swiss model which means membership of the European Free Trade Association but not of the EEA. It pays a smaller amount into Brussels than Norway but must accept free movement. And it does not have single market access for banking and services, which make up 80 per cent of the UK ecomony.
  • Turkey is a member of the EU customs union but not of the single market. That means no tariffs or quotas on industrial goods exported to EU countries but it has to apply the EU’s external tariff on goods imported from outside. That restricts trade deals with the rest of the world.
  • The Canada option is a free trade deal which has so far taken nine years to negotiate. It gets rid of most tariffs, but excludes some food and services which would not suit Britain. It is strictly a trade deal – so the UK would still have to reach new arrangements with the EU on such things as security and aviation safety. A Canada-style deal is favoured by the likes of Tory Brexit rebel Jacob Rees-Mogg.
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