Jeremy Corbyn ‘wants to see through a Tory Brexit so he can wash his hands of it’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the prime minister last week (Picture: PA)

Jeremy Corbyn wants the Conservatives to get their Brexit through so he can “wash his hands of it”, it has been reported.

Last week, the Labour leader wrote a letter to prime minister Theresa May outlining five demands to secure his party’s support for her deal.

At the weekend, she wrote back to Mr Corbyn, and Downing Street later said it would reject any calls to remain in the customs union with the EU, as he demanded.

But on Monday, ITV political editor Robert Peston reported that the original letter from Mr Corbyn to Mrs May had contained a reference to a second Brexit referendum.

Prime minister Theresa May will give a Brexit update in the Commons on Tuesday (Picture: PA)

Mr Peston said shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, who drafted the original letter, was unhappy that this paragraph was later removed without his knowledge.

And he said a Labour source had told him that Mr Corbyn and those closest to him are only interested in seeing through Mrs May’s Brexit so they can “wash their hands of it”.

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In a Facebook post, Mr Peston said: “I am told that the original draft of Corbyn’s letter to May, which was written by Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Starmer, contained reference to the party’s fallback position of a referendum. And this was struck out by Corbyn’s office before the letter was sent.

“But none of that means there is a deal to be done between Corbyn and May – because the scale of compromise for both may well be beyond what their parties can wear and bear.

“To get his party on board, Corbyn would have to explain why he would be doing a deal whose effect could be to sustain the Tory government in office till 2022.

“I am told Starmer is not the happiest member of the front bench, to put it mildly – according to multiple sources.

“He had agreed that the final part of Corbyn’s letter to May would say ‘if you do not accept this (Brexit offer) there will be a People’s Vote’.


“A source tells me ‘LOTO (the leader of the opposition) agreed to this. But then Keir discovered after the letter had been sent and published that the People’s Vote para had gone’.

“Apparently Starmer’s reaction has not been one of unbridled joy.

“And even erstwhile Corbyn loyalists are becoming grumpy at what they see as his refusal to follow the revealed will of Labour members and supporters that their should be a referendum.

“One said: “the only interest” of Corbyn and his aides is “seeing a Tory Brexit through so they can wash their hands of it”.

Mrs May has offered further talks with Labour in an attempt to secure cross-party consensus on Brexit.

Mrs May’s response to Mr Corbyn’s letter (Picture: PA)

In her letter to Mr Corbyn, she questioned his call for a customs union with Brussels, but offered concessions in other areas and said she wanted talks between Labour and Tory teams “as soon as possible”.

The prime minister said she wanted the Tory and Labour teams to consider “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop.

But she insisted her deal already met many of the conditions he had set, without tying the UK in to a customs union arrangement which would prevent Britain from striking its own trade deals.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer was reportedly unhappy about the removal of a reference to a second referendum in Mr Corbyn’s letter (Picture: PA)

Mr Corbyn’s demand is for a customs union that gives the UK a say on future trade deals the EU might strike – something Brussels appears unlikely to accept.

Mrs May will give a statement to Parliament on Tuesday on the latest developments in Brexit talks.

International trade secretary Liam Fox has warned that Labour proposals for a customs union with the EU are “not workable”.

He said: “The idea that you can have a customs union with the EU and at the same time, as an outside country, have an effect on EU trade policy is to not understand the EU treaties.

“It is very clear from the European Union that non-EU members do not have a say in EU trade policy so to pretend that you could do so is a dangerous delusion.”