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Corbyn Moves Toward Backing a New Referendum: Brexit Update

By Bloomberg 27 May 2019
Caption
A handout video-grabbed still image from a video made available by UK parliament's parliamentary recording unit shows British Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Labour Party's Deputy Leader MP Tom Watson reacting after Prime Minister Theresa May won the vote of no confidence in the House of Commons in London, Britain, 16 January 2019. Britain's Prime Minister May faced a confidence vote in parliament after she lost the The Meaningful Vote parliamentary vote on the EU withdrawal agreement on 15 January. EPA-EFE/PARLIAMENTARY RECORDING UNIT HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: PARLIAMENTARY RECORDING UNIT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to give the public a vote on any Brexit deal before the U.K. leaves the European Union. His comments came after the U.K.’s main political parties were hammered in European Parliament elections, scoring their worst results in decades.

Must-read: Brexit Tears Up British Politics as Farage Tops EU Election Poll

Key Developments
Pro-Brexit parties took a bigger share of the vote than remainers, but more voted for a second referendum than for a no-deal split. Pro-Brexit parties took 44%. Anti-Brexit parties, which back a so-called people’s vote, took 40%. No-deal parties won 35%. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he’s now preparing for the next general election Labour figures called for another referendum, Corbyn backed a “public vote.” Tories took just 9% of the vote; ministers said the Conservatives must deliver Brexit or risk losing power. The pound falls 0.2%
Leadsom Laments Terrible Result for Tories (12:10 p.m.)
“These results are truly terrible and demonstrate the damage that has been done to the Conservative Party, and to the country, in not leaving the European Union,” Conservative Party leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom said. “It is now vital we now find a way to decisively leave the EU.”

Leadsom was a leading figure in the 2016 referendum Vote Leave campaign and stood against Theresa May for the Tory leadership that year.

Corbyn Moves Toward Backing a Referendum (11:15 a.m.)
The opposition Labour leader made his clearest statement yet that he will back another Brexit referendum on the terms of “any” deal that’s agreed.

Corbyn spoke to broadcasters after senior members of his shadow cabinet called for the party to take a clearer stance on a second plebiscite. One of them went as far as to say the party should campaign for remain in any re-run.

The Labour leader repeated his line that his preference is a general election. But he said he was listening to members — most of whom want another referendum.

“Any final deal has to be put to a public vote,” he said.

That’s further than he’s gone before, when he said a referendum would be justified to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit” or a no-deal scenario. But he’s left himself some wiggle room by referring to a “public vote” rather than a referendum.

“The priority at the moment I think is for this government to call for a general election and actually have a general election,” Corbyn said. Asked about McDonnell’s comment on the need to put an exit deal to a public vote, Corbyn said: “John has also pointed out — and I support this — that any final deal has to be put to a public vote, and that we are prepared to do.”

Starmer Adds to Calls for Second Referendum (10:30 a.m.)
Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, said the election results strengthened the case for a second referendum.

Key Labour Figures Call for Second Referendum (9:14 a.m.)
John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman, said the results showed that the party should take Brexit back to the people in a “public vote.”

Emily Thornberry, the party’s spokeswoman on foreign affairs, had a similar message — saying the party had been punished for its lack of clarity. Diane Abbott, who leads the party on home affairs, also called for “a clearer line on a public vote.”

Corbyn, who is more euroskeptic than many in his core team, said it was time to “reflect,” and promised “conversations across our party and movement” in the coming days.

Brexiteer Baker Hasn’t Picked His Candidate Yet (Earlier)
Brexit hardliner Steve Baker said the results showed the government must deliver Brexit, and has been punished for breaking its promises.

A leading figure in the Brexit purist camp, Baker said he hadn’t yet decided which candidate he would back in the leadership race but would talk to the two leading rivals — Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab in the coming days. And he hasn’t ruled out running himself.

Read more: No-Deal Brexit Is Like Skydiving for This Lawmaker. Just Easier

Farage Prepares for General Election (Earlier)
Farage told the BBC his party is now preparing for a general election. He also wants a role in the government’s Brexit negotiating team, and is willing to lend a hand to help prepare for no-deal. DM

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