Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May he is ready to agree a 'sensible' Brexit deal
Jeremy Corbyn has told Theresa May he is ready to agree a “sensible” deal with her on Brexit.
In a move designed to pile pressure on the Prime Minister ahead of next week’s Tory conference, the Labour leader said his party could help her get a withdrawal agreement through the Commons.
However, he said any deal would need to involve a customs union with the EU, a guarantee there would be no hard border in Ireland and no reduction in workers’ rights or environmental standards.
Addressing the last day of the Labour conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn said: “The way ahead is clear. We will vote against any reduction in rights, standards or protections and oppose a deregulatory race-to-the-bottom.
“So let me say to the country. As it stands, Labour will vote against the Chequers plan or whatever is left of it and oppose leaving the EU with no deal.
“And it is inconceivable that we should crash out of Europe with no deal - that would be a national disaster.
“That is why if Parliament votes down a Tory deal or the government fails to reach any deal at all we would press for a General Election. Failing that, all options are on the table.”
He added: “Let me also reach out to the Prime Minister, who is currently doing the negotiating.
“Brexit is about the future of our country and our vital interests. It is not about leadership squabbles or parliamentary posturing.
“If you deliver a deal that includes a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, if you protect jobs, people’s rights at work and environmental and consumer standards - then we will support that sensible deal. A deal that would be backed by most of the business world and trade unions too.
“But if you can’t negotiate that deal then you need to make way for a party that can.”
Labour sources insisted Mr Corbyn was not dumping the six tests it has said Mrs May’s Brexit deal must clear in order to win their support.
One source told PoliticsHome: “This is now about throwing the gauntlet to May ahead of the Tory conference - we have tests, try to meet them.”
Labour insiders also said Mr Corbyn had agreed the shift in strategy with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer.
The move to heap pressure on the Prime Minister came during a speech in which the Labour leader hit out at "greed is good" capitalism and urged his warring party to unite and take on the Conservatives.
In a direct pitch to voters, Mr Corbyn said Labour had “a radical plan to rebuild and transform our country”.
He said: “Where the Tories have divided and ruled, we will unite and govern.
“We represent the new common sense of our time. And we are ready to deliver on it. “We must speak for the people to whom Theresa May promised so much but has delivered so little.
“And we must take our message to every town, city and village. United and ready to win, ready to govern as we were in 1945, 1964 and 1997.
“So that when we meet this time next year let it be as a Labour government - investing in Britain after years of austerity and neglect and bringing our country together after a decade of division.”
The Labour leader meanwhile devoted a large section of his 59-minute long speech to the anti-Semitism row which dogged Labour throughout the summer.
But he once again stopped short of apologising for his own actions, or for the party’s failure to properly tackle the issue. He acknowledged that the row had “caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party”.
Mr Corbyn said he wanted to “draw a line under” the issue and, in a direct message to Jewish voters, he said: “This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms. We are your ally.
“And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks.
“We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate anti-Semitism, both from our party and wider society.
“And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess.”
Mr Corbyn also confirmed plans to expand free childcare, and vowed to "lead by example" in the fight against climate change with a pledge to reduce carbon emissions entirely by 2050.