Jess Phillips hints she would back re-joining the EU as Labour leader

Posted On: 
5th January 2020

Jess Phillips has suggested she would back re-joining the European Union if she wins the Labour leadership contest.

Jess Phillips is one of five candidates to have officially joined the Labour leadership race
Credit: 
PA Images

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The Birmingham Yardley MP said if “it is more economically viable” to be in the bloc once we are out then she will “fight for that regardless of how difficult that argument is to make”.

But Sir Keir Starmer, her rival in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, insisted Labour must now “focus on what comes next” rather than the 2016 referendum.

Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, Ms Phillips said under her the party could campaign to overturn Brexit if she felt it would be beneficial to the UK.

She said: “You would have to look at what was going on at the time. What our job is for the next three years is to hold Boris Johnson to account on all the promises. 

“So if we are living in an absolute paradise of trade and we are totally safe in the world and we are not worrying about having to constantly look to America for our safety and security then maybe I will be proven wrong.”

Ms Phillips added: “But the reality is is if our country is safer, if it is more economically viable to be in the European Union then I will fight for that regardless of how difficult that argument is to make.”

Speaking later on the same programme Sir Keir, who as shadow Brexit secretary was seen as helping move Labour to back a second referendum, insisted it was now a settled issue.

He said: “We are going to leave the EU in the next few weeks and it is important for all of us, including myself, to recognise that the argument about Leave and Remain goes with it. 

"We are leaving. We will have left the EU.

“This election blew away the argument for a second referendum, rightly or wrongly, and we have to adjust to that situation.”

The favourite with the bookies added: “So the argument has to move on and we the Labour Party need to accept that Leave/Remain, that divide, goes in a few weeks time and we need to focus on what comes next.”