POLITICS
13/01/2019 11:19 GMT | Updated 13/01/2019 11:37 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn Dashes 'People's Vote' Hopes And Backs Fresh Brexit Deal

But leader says "I'm not a dictator" as pressure on Labour to switch position builds.

Jeremy Corbyn has dashed hopes he could back a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ by saying he wants a renegotiated Brexit deal. 

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, the Labour leader was asked what should come next if Theresa May’s deal is voted down in parliament. 

He said “my own view is I would rather get a negotiated deal now” before adding that “everything” depends on Tuesday’s critical vote. 

Corbyn also signalled he was aware of the huge backing for Remain and a so-called People’s Vote from within his party, telling Marr he would “of course” listen to members, adding: “I’m not a dictator.” 

Labour’s policy is to vote down May’s deal and seek a general election. If they fail to secure a new national poll, “all options” are on the table. 

The Labour leader was also asked if he would table a motion of no-confidence in the government immediately after the Brexit deal was defeated. 

Corbyn warned Marr “don’t get too excited” at because his party would table it “at a time of our choosing”. 

“We will table a motion of no confidence in the Government at a time of our choosing, but it’s going to be soon, don’t worry about it.”

He said people should “see what happens” following Tuesday’s critical vote. 

He was repeatedly asked whether Labour would campaign to Leave the EU if a general election was called, but sidestepped the question.

The Labour leader claimed the PM was in “desperation stakes”, and her Withdrawal Agreement would be “very damaging in the long run” to rights, trade arrangements and to the Northern Ireland situation.

“We’re campaigning for a country that is brought together by investment,” and later added: “We’re campaigning for a customs union,”

Asked if Article 50 should be extended, he indicated that he supported the move.

He said: “Clearly if Theresa May’s deal is voted down, clearly if a general election takes place and a Labour government comes in - an election would take place February, March time - clearly there’s only a few weeks between that and the leave date, there would have to be time for those negotiations.”

Pressed about a second referendum, Corbyn underlined Labour’s policy of, in the first instance, pushing for a general election. 

But he went on to say: “My own view is that I’d rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on March 29 - which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade and the long-term effects of that would be huge.”

The Labour leader said his party will “decide our manifesto content as soon as we know there’s an election coming”.

Asked about the prospect of MPs trying to stop the Article 50 process, Corbyn said: “I think Parliament may well want to do that but let’s see what happens - but the crucial thing is Tuesday and if this Government can’t control Parliament, it’s time to move on to a general election so they people can decide who they want to be their government.”

The Labour leader also launched a strong defence of Speaker John Bercow and said his treatment by some MPs had been “absolutely disgraceful”.

The speaker has been “religiously fair”, says Corbyn.

He added: “What he’s trying to do is ensure that MPs, on all sides of the House, have a chance to take part and propose amendments in this whole Brexit process.

“I think John Bercow has been a good Speaker and the attacks on him are really unfair and unwarranted.”

Asked if Bercow is trying to stop Brexit, Corbyn replied: “No. What I think he’s trying to do is ensure Parliament has an absolute say in it.

“He is religiously fair in his chairing of the parliamentary procedures - he shuts me up as much as he shuts anybody else up.”