LONDON: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stepped up calls for a general election “at the earliest opportunity” to “break the deadlock” over Brexit. In a speech, he said a new government would have a fresh mandate to negotiate a better withdrawal deal with the EU.
He told Theresa May: “If you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide.”
The Conservatives said Labour did not have a plan for Brexit and were “playing politics”. Labour will vote against Theresa May’s withdrawal deal on Tuesday and if, as widely expected, it is defeated, they are expected to start moves to trigger a general election.
Mr Corbyn said Labour would “table a motion of no confidence in the government at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success”.
He added: “Clearly, Labour does not have enough MPs in parliament to win a confidence vote on its own. So members across the House should vote with us to break the deadlock.” Some of Mr Corbyn’s Leave-supporting backbench MPs have been speaking to Theresa May about backing her deal if she can guarantee environmental standards and rights for workers.
Others, on the anti-Brexit side of his party, are calling on him to get behind the campaign for a new EU referendum.
Mr Corbyn has said his preferred option is to trigger a general election and, having won it, seek to delay Brexit in order to negotiate a better deal with Brussels, which he says would see the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU and with a close relationship with the single market.
The UK would be free to set its own immigration controls. However some UK professionals working in the EU and UK expats could face uncertainty until their status was clarified. The European Commission has said that even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers won’t need a visa for short visits of up to 90 days.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic would become an external frontier for the EU with customs and immigration controls, though how and where any checks would be made is not clear.