Jeremy Corbyn admits he is ‘no lover of EU’ during candid defence of Remain

Written by Matthew Chapman on 21 June 2016 in Diary

Defiant Labour leader argues Remain is better than the alternative

Jeremy Corbyn offered a lukewarm defence for staying in the EU during his only live set-piece debate of the referendum campaign.

The Labour leader has come under fire for not campaigning hard enough to win his party’s supporters over to Remain and his performance during last night’s Sky debate is unlikely to alter the criticism levelled at him. 

A defiant and candid Corbyn revealed he would refuse to shoulder any blame in the event of a Brexit when quizzed by an audience member.

“I am not going to take blame for people’s decision,” said Corbyn. “There will be a decision made on Thursday, I’m hoping there is going to be a Remain vote, there may well be a Remain vote, there may well be a Leave vote. Whatever the result that is the result of the referendum, we have got to work with it.”

During the debate Corbyn, who voted against Common Market membership in 1975 and against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, admitted “I’m not a lover of the European Union”.

He revealed he and the Labour Party had come to the conclusion it was best to stay in Europe “after a lot of thought and a lot of process”.

“We can bring about more social justice across this continent, we can be an influence for better environmental protection and standards around the world,” said Corbyn. “But above all it is about the kind of democratic society in which we want to live, in which everyone’s point of view is important and everyone is able to take part and contribute to that.”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement, which is currently being negotiated between Europe and the US and is a source of concern among many of those leaning towards a Remain vote, would still go ahead if the UK voted for Brexit, according to Corbyn.

He suggested TTIP, which people fear could lead to the privatisation of the NHS, would be supported by the Conservative backers of Brexit.

“My view is TTIP is as it stands the enfranchisement of global corporations at the expense of democratically elected governments,” said Corbyn. “Mine is a practical view that if we stay in the European Union we can fight against things.

“If we come out of the European Union a government led by the main people that are leading the Leave campaign, they will sign a TTIP straight away with the USA if they could.”

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