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Election not referendum is the priority, says Jeremy Corbyn in Walsall

By Pete Madeley | Walsall | Politics | Published:

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Tom Watson is wrong on his Brexit stance as Labour divisions over a fresh vote on EU membership widened.

Jeremy Corbyn visited Walsall College of Further Education on Wednesday

The Labour leader said he did not accept his deputy's view that the party should push for a second referendum and campaign for Remain.

Speaking during a visit to Walsall College, Mr Corbyn said stopping a no-deal Brexit was his priority, followed by a general election and then a public vote on any new EU withdrawal agreement.

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"Labour will do everything to prevent a no deal exit from the European Union. That is our first priority," he said.

"After that we want a general election so the people of this country can decide their future, giving everyone a government that invests, that ends austerity, that deals with the grotesque levels of inequality and poverty.

Mr Corbyn in Walsall
Selfie time

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"They will get the chance for a public vote, under a Labour government, to vote between Remain and a credible option that we will negotiate with the EU."

'I don't accept it'

Asked for his opinion on West Bromwich East MP Mr Watson's call for a new Brexit poll before an election, he said: "It's Tom's view. I don't accept it, I don't agree with it.

"Our priority is to get a general election in order to give the people the chance to elect a government that cares for them, not themselves."

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Mr Corbyn in Walsall

Mr Corbyn said he would make a decision over which way Labour would campaign in a new referendum after the party has negotiated a deal with the EU.

Earlier Mr Watson gave a speech where he said that the result of the 2016 referendum is no longer valid, claiming that information had emerged that proved there was “no such thing as a good Brexit deal”.

Mr Watson said: “Very difficult though it was, I and many others respected the result of the 2016 referendum for a long time.

“But there eventually comes a point – and we are very far past it now, well into the fourth year since the referendum – when circumstances are so changed, when so much new information has emerged that we didn’t have in 2016, when so many people feel differently to how they felt then, that you have to say, no, that years-old plebiscite is no longer a valid basis on which to take such a momentous decision about the future of the United Kingdom.”

“We must unambiguously and unequivocally back remain,” he said, adding that this is “not for electoral or tactical reasons, but because it is the right thing to do for the country at this time of greatest crisis since the second world war”.

Tom Watson speaking at Somerset House in London

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is facing demands for the immediate recall of MPs to Westminster after the suspension of Parliament was ruled unlawful by Scotland’s highest civil court.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh found ministers had stopped MPs from sitting for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

The Government immediately announced it was lodging an appeal against the ruling with the Supreme Court, with a hearing set for Tuesday, but opposition MPs said the prorogation should be set aside without delay so ministers could be held to account for their Brexit plans in the Commons.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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