UK Labour leader Corbyn: I would stay neutral in a second Brexit referendum

Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn holds his party’s manifesto during its launch in Birmingham, Britain November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) – The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Friday he would remain neutral in any second Brexit referendum, so he could credibly carry out the result of the vote and unite the country.

Corbyn is vying to become prime minister at a Dec. 12 election which was called by his Conservative rival, the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to resolve deadlock in parliament over the right approach to leaving the European Union.

While Johnson wants to implement a deal he has already agreed with Brussels and leave the EU in January, Labour is promising to negotiate a new exit deal and put it to the public at a second referendum next year.

“I will adopt as prime minister, if I am, at the time, a neutral stance so that I can credibly carry out the results of that (referendum) to bring our communities and country together, rather than continuing an endless debate about the EU, and Brexit,” Corbyn said during a televised question and answer session on BBC TV.

Previously, Corbyn has said his party’s position would be determined by a special party conference on the issue.

“Jeremy Corbyn has just confirmed that he has no plan for Brexit – he will not even say if he thinks we should leave or remain,” the Conservative Party said in an emailed statement.

Brexit divides many within Labour, with some senior figures angering grassroots members by saying openly they would campaign to remain in the EU.

“My role and the role of our government will be to ensure that that referendum is held in a fair atmosphere, and we will abide by the result of it,” Corbyn said.

Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden and Andrew Heavens

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