LONDON: British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed for the first time that he will remain neutral in the second Brexit referendum that he has vowed to hold if he becomes prime minister next month.
“I will adopt a neutral stance so I can credibly carry out the result,” he told a special edition of the BBC’s Question Time programme.
Labour plans to renegotiate the deal agreed between the current Conservative government and the European Union, and then put it to another vote, with remaining in the EU being the other option.
“This will be a trade deal with Europe, or remaining in the EU,” he added.
“That will be the choice that we put before the British public within six months.” Some Labour MPs have said they will vote against their own party’s deal and in favour of staying in the EU. It is the first time that Corbyn, a veteran eurosceptic who has not revealed how he would vote in another referendum, has stated how he will campaign.
The Brexit issue is threatening to hurt Labour in its traditional working class heartlands, which mostly voted to leave the EU.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to pick up stray Labour leave voters, but suffered a difficult night in front of an unforgiving crowd.
Johnson came under fire for alleged racism in his previous news articles and also for not releasing a report into Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which he dismissed as “Bermuda Triangle stuff”.
Corbyn’s route to power in the Dec 12 election could depend on support from the Scottish National Party (SNP) in some form of coalition.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said in the BBC debate that another referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom would be the price of her support.
“I would ask for, and expect, Jeremy Corbyn to respect the right of Scottish people to decide their own future.” The Labour leader earlier said that a Scottish independence referendum was “not a priority” in the “early years” of his administration, which he defined as being two years.
But Sturgeon told the audience that she was “not sure he’s going to compromise the chance” of becoming prime minister by holding out on the SNP’s demands.
Mr Corbyn denounced the “tax and wage cheat culture” of multinational companies on Saturday in an election rally outside an Amazon depot.
Corbyn met workers at the depot in the northern English city of Sheffield ahead of the Dec 12 election, which pits his Labour party against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing Conservatives.
“I came to Amazon today with a simple message for multinational businesses: If you sell goods in our country, you should pay taxes in our country, not hide profits in tax havens,” Corbyn said on Twitter.
The veteran socialist has vowed to stop multinational companies moving their tax bills offshore to “lower tax regimes” with measures to force them to pay taxes on all their operations in Britain.
Labour expects the measures to raise 6.3 billion ($8.1 billion) in 2023-2024 to help pay for its manifesto plans to nationalise key utilities. A spokesman for online giant Amazon said tax-dodging claims about Amazon were false, adding that Amazon had invested more than 18 billion since 2010 in creating jobs and infrastructure.
“This investment helped contribute to a total tax contribution of 793 million during 2018,” the spokesman said.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2019