In an interview with BBC News yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn got into a muddle over whether Labour would definitely take Britain out the European Union. While giving assurances that he would work with Europe to get the best Brexit deal possible, Corbyn fell short of giving the cast iron Brexit commitment that many former Labour voters crave.
This gave the right-wing press an open goal, who swiftly denounced Jeremy Corbyn as a secret second referendum advocate who would try and keep Britain in the European Union at all costs.
They should now consider deleting their articles.
Today, Jeremy Corbyn relieved many by making Labour’s position on Brexit crystal clear. In an interview with BBC Look North today, after being questioned on the issue, Corbyn said:
“Can I make it clear? Yes. We accept the result of the referendum, Britain is leaving the European Union. That is the decision of the referendum and that is the process of Article 50. As a country, we had a debate, we had a vote, we made the decision.”
This statement of Corbyn’s will chime well with many voters in Labour’s working class heartlands. It is estimated that around 35% of Labour voters backed Leave on June 23rd last year. This was always going to be a problem for a party that staunchly backed a Remain vote, but Corbyn’s statement will serve to alleviate some of the concerns that Labour are not fully committed to the Brexit project.
Opinion polls are currently showing a double-digit Conservative lead, despite Labour remaining on around the same share of the vote they got in 2015. Having taken the vast majority of their new votes from UKIP, Theresa May and the Tories are appealing to the disaffected in Labour’s heartlands who want to see Britain leave the European Union.
By clarifying his once blurry position on Brexit, Corbyn is reassuring those who may be tempted by Theresa May’s “bloody difficult woman” rhetoric on Europe. The message to former and current Labour voters in Leave voting areas is clear: Labour will respect their democratic decision, and that Brexit is safe in Labour’s hands.