Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “serving up fudge” on Brexit by Green Party co-leader and London Assembly Member Sian Berry, following the Labour Party’s launch of its manifesto for the European elections this morning.
Berry, who is also a member of Camden Council, described herself as “disappointed” that Corbyn had failed to make “a commitment on free movement and a People’s Vote on any deal”, contrasting this with her party’s long-standing commitment to “giving the people the final say” on any Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the European Union being on the ballot paper in a further referendum.
Corbyn launched Labour’s campaign in Kent, where he argued that “the real divide in our country” is not about how people voted in the 2016 referendum and claimed his party aimed to “unite the overwhelming majority of people and take on the privileged and powerful” in order to tackle injustice.
Labour’s formal position during the referendum was to stay in the EU, but party leaders are currently negotiating with the government to help it get a Brexit deal through parliament. Corbyn reiterated that Labour would only back “the option of a public vote” if what he called a “sensible” exit deal could not be struck with the Conservatives and in the absence of a general election.
Berry agreed with Corbyn’s suggestion that a second referendum which settled the Brexit question could be part of a national “healing process”, but that this would only be the case if a Remain option was offered – something that she contends on the strength of past statements appears to be “not what Labour has in mind”.
The list of eight Labour candidates for the London region in the elections is topped by two of its current Members of the European Parliament, followed by former Corbyn aide Katy Clark, who is regarded as a strong Eurosceptic. Laura Parker, a prominent member of the Corbyn-backing campaign group Momentum who favours a second referendum has been placed below Clark in fourth place.
Berry said of Labour’s position: “This kind of fudging is just the sort of behaviour that has got so many voters angry an frustrated”.