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Gordon Brown urges Jeremy Corbyn to back second EU referendum 'when Brexit reaches crisis point'

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 10/11/2017 By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor
Gordon Brown wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Telegraph

Gordon Brown has urged Jeremy Corbyn to push for a second EU referendum next year if Brussels can be persuaded to make a “game-changer” offer on restricting free movement.

The former Prime Minister predicted that the Brexit talks would hit “crisis point” next summer when he said the public will realise the Government has not achieved control over the UK’s borders, trade and courts and was still planning to pay “loads of money” to the EU.

Although he said he was not now advocating a second referendum, he argued there may be “scope for a reassessment” if it becomes obvious the Leave campaign’s promises have not been fulfilled and the EU is prepared to compromise on immigration.

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Mr Brown argued that Mr Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer, his Shadow Brexit Secretary, could at this point call for another vote and cited examples of the EU being willing to bend on free movement with other European countries.

Pressed if Labour should be calling for a second referendum, he predicted Mr Corbyn would be “on exactly the same page” as him next summer if the Brexit deal appears “unsatisfactory” and “there is a game-changing moment.”

Speaking to Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, Mr Brown insisted that such an approach would not betray the 17 million people who voted for Brexit last year as it would only happen if there was “new evidence”.

He was speaking following the publication this week of his memoirs, titled My Life, Our Times, in which he describes his main challenges during ten years as Chancellor and three as Prime Minister and his role in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

Mr Brown was scathing about David Cameron’s renegotiation of the UK’s settlement with the EU before last year’s Brexit referendum, saying “nobody remembers a word of it”, but argued that Brussels could be prepared to offer more next summer.

Arguing that Brexit talks would reach a crisis, he said: “By next summer, the public will have made up their mind that the four red lines that the government had actually set in place are not going to be achieved, they’re going to be crossed.” 

He said the result of last year’s vote had to be respected but added: “Is there a game-changer?  Is there something that we didn’t get right the last time that would persuade millions of Leave voters to think it was worth going for Remain?”

Mr Brown said this would require a “great deal of work” and the support of the rest of Europe as the referendum result could only be revisited “if there’s new evidence and if there is new information that we can bring to bear to the public.”

But he said the Swiss have reached a deal with the EU over freedom of movement so jobs registered at job centres are mainly reserved for local people and claimed the French and Belgians are also looking for concessions.

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