Emily Thornberry warns Jeremy Corbyn that Labour would be 'off our rockers' not to back Remain

Posted On: 
31st July 2019

Labour would be "off our bloody rockers" not to back staying in the European Union in all circumstances, Emily Thornberry has said.

Emily Thornberry is at odds with Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit.
Credit: 
PA Images

In a direct challenge to Jeremy Corbyn, the Shadow Foreign Secretary said any new Brexit deal agreed by either a Tory or Labour government should be put to a referendum in which her party must back Remain.

Labour's official policy is only to back Remain to block a Tory deal or no-deal, leaving open the possibility of the party backing Brexit if they win the next election and negotiate a fresh agreement with Brussels.

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Ms Thornberry's comments came just days after the Labour leader refused to say whether or not he supported the UK staying in the EU.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn's spokesman has also insisted that Labour had "never said" that it was now a Remain-backing party.

But speaking on a visit to Australia, Ms Thornberry said: "I think that any deal, or no deal, or whatever this government comes up with, should be put back to the British people so they can be asked: is this what you voted for? Because if you did, that’s fine.

"But we don’t think it is what you voted for. And I’m firmly of the view that Labour’s policy should be that whatever deal a government comes up with – no ifs, no buts, as Boris Johnson says – we should put it back to the people, we should have another referendum, and that Labour should campaign to remain.

"When I’ve been talking to people here in Australia...what’s really come home to me is that one of the reasons for the increased success of the Australian economy...is that you increased your trade with your closest neighbours, and yet in Britain what we’re doing is walking away from our closest neighbours and our biggest trading allies.

"And people that I’ve spoken to here appreciate that, and I have to say practically all of them...have said if we get an opportunity to remain in the European Union, we should take it. Because if we don’t, we’re off our bloody rockers.”

It is not the first time the Labour frontbencher has put herself at odds with the party leadership with her pro-EU views.

In May, she blamed Labour's confused policy on Brexit for its poor performance in the European elections.

The Labour frontbencher said at the time: "We went into an election where the most important issue was what was our view on leaving the European Union and we were not clear about it. We were not clear on the one single thing that people wanted to hear and that wasn't (the candidates' ) fault.

"We should have said quite simply that any deal that comes out of this government should be put to a confirmatory referendum and that Remain should be on the ballot paper and that Labour would campaign to Remain."

After that outburst, she was dumped as Mr Corbyn's regular stand-in at Prime Minister's Questions and replaced by Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Asked on Sunday whether he wanted the UK to leave or stay in the EU, Mr Corbyn said his priorities were "investment, jobs, trade and equality - both in or out of the EU".