Opposition Labour leader urges election to end Brexit impasse

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures as he speaks on the Brexit deadlock in Wakefield, Britain, on Jan 10, 2019.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures as he speaks on the Brexit deadlock in Wakefield, Britain, on Jan 10, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

WAKEFIELD (England) • Britain's main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday called for a general election to resolve the deadlock in Parliament over Brexit, arguing that he would renegotiate the agreement with Brussels if he came to power.

"If the government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity," he said, speaking at an electronic components factory in Wakefield in northern England.

"To break the deadlock, an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option.

"It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in Parliament and across the country," he said.

The European Union has ruled out any renegotiation of the deal.

The Labour leader has said he will seek a vote of no confidence in the government if Parliament, as expected, next week votes against the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated with EU leaders.

If the government lose a no confidence motion, there will be a period of 14 days in which parties can seek to find an alternative working majority in Parliament and a general election would be called if they fail to do so.


The Labour Party has said it will only push for a second referendum on Brexit if it fails to trigger an election.

"We'll keep all options on the table, including the option of campaigning for a public vote," Mr Corbyn said.

Wakefield voted by 66 per cent in favour of leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum but its two local Labour MPs, Ms Mary Creagh and Ms Yvette Cooper, support a second referendum that could allow Britain to stay in.

In his speech, Mr Corbyn said that Labour would seek to heal Brexit divisions if it came to power, arguing that the core problem was a "failed system rigged against the many to protect the interests of the few".

Responding to questions after his speech, he said an extension of the Article 50 process which would delay Brexit is possible, to allow a new Labour government "time to negotiate".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2019, with the headline 'Opposition Labour leader urges election to end Brexit impasse'. Print Edition | Subscribe