Jeremy Corbyn tells his party conference that Labour will vote against Chequers and oppose a no-deal Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn tells his party conference that Labour will vote against Chequers and oppose a no-deal Brexit

Below is the section of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour Party Conference just delivered in Liverpool concerning Brexit:

Labour’s plans to rebuild and transform our country and its relationship with the rest of the world are having to be made against the backdrop of huge uncertainty about Brexit. Labour respects the decision of the British people in the referendum. But no one can respect the conduct of the British Government since the vote took place.

We all hoped that the people’s decision would be followed by effective and responsible negotiations that would protect living standards and jobs. Instead, the main negotiations have taken place between different factions of the Tory party and the only job this Government is fighting for is that of the Prime Minister.

Theresa May used to say that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Yet now, after two years of botched negotiations she is threatening the country with just that choice: a bad deal or no deal. That is a threat to our whole economy, especially our manufacturing industry and to the tens of thousands of skilled jobs in the supply chains here in Britain.

Now time is running out. Companies are losing patience. In the absence of any clarity from the Government they are planning to relocate abroad, taking jobs and investment with them. Some have already started and I fear more will follow.

The Tories are well aware of this but some see Brexit as their opportunity to impose a free market shock doctrine on Britain. The Prime Minister is in New York today promising that a post-Brexit Britain will offer the lowest corporation tax of all the G20 nations. Handouts to the few, paid for by the many and an already tried-and-failed strategy for boosting investment.

Sajid Javid has set out his plan for more tax giveaways and ripping up people’s pension rights. Liam Fox is itching to scrap workers’ rights and privatise the NHS with a side order of chlorinated chicken. And then there’s Jacob Rees-Mogg [audience boos] who has expressed his personal faith in a Brexit Britain and expressed it so nicely by deciding to base his new investment fund in the Eurozone. The Tory Brexiteers unite the politics of the 1950s with the economics of the 19th century, daydreaming about a Britannia that both rules the waves and waives the rules.

Labour’s job is now to win support for a deal that meets the needs of the country, combined with our plan to rebuild and transform Britain with investment in our people and economy. Our priority is clear – we aim to get the best Brexit deal for jobs and living standards to underpin our plans to upgrade our economy and invest in every community and every region, that can bring people together and meet the concerns of both those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain.

The way ahead is clear. We will vote against any reduction in rights, standards or protections and oppose a deregulatory race-to-the-bottom.

So let me say to the country. As it stands, Labour will vote against the Chequers plan or whatever is left of it and oppose leaving the EU with no deal. And it is inconceivable that we should crash out of Europe with no deal – it would be a national disaster. That is why if Parliament votes down a Tory deal or the government fails to reach any deal at all, we would press for a General Election. Failing that, all options are on the table.

Let me thank Keir Starmer, the man who would lead our Brexit negotiations. Keir, having got agreement yesterday in this conference hall, getting one in Brussels should be a piece of cake.

But let me also reach out to the Prime Minister – see, I reach out to everybody – who is currently doing the negotiating. Brexit is about the future of our country and our vital interests. It is not about leadership squabbles or parliamentary posturing. I say this to her in all sincerity and helpfulness: if you deliver a deal that includes a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, if you protect jobs, people’s rights at work and environmental and consumer standards – then we will support that sensible deal. A deal that would be backed by most of the business world and trade unions too. But if you can’t negotiate that deal then you need to make way for a party that can and will.