Politics

Jeremy Corbyn will appoint new team of Brexit negotiators backing ‘both Leave and Remain’ if Labour wins general election


Jeremy Corbyn has revealed he would appoint a new team of ministers to negotiate a fresh Brexit deal – backing both Leave and Remain – after criticism of who would carry out the role.

The announcement throws doubt on the continued influence of Keir Starmer, the current Remain-supporting shadow Brexit Secretary, who was not mentioned by the Labour leader.

Boris Johnson has questioned how Labour could meet its pledge to strike a “credible” Brexit deal, if it wins the general election, when almost all its senior figures have said they would vote to stay in the EU in the Final Say referendum that followed.

On BBC Breakfast, Mr Corbyn was asked: “Who is going to do the deal? And how do people trust people who are Remain to do the deal?”

He replied: “I will be appointing ministers representing different parts of country and whose personal views are different – both Leave and Remain.”

Asked if that would include new ministers, he said: “Of course, yes, but I’m not naming any ministers now.”

Angela Rayner, the education spokeswoman, Ian Lavery, the campaign chairman, and Jon Trickett, the shadow cabinet office minister, have all suggested they could vote for a softer Leave deal.

The ministerial team would be backed up by an advisory board of trade union leaders, business leaders and academics, the Labour leader said.

In the interview, Mr Corbyn also rejected criticism that Labour’s plans for a four-day working week were a threat to the NHS, by further denuding its workforce.

“It’s not going to be forced on the NHS. The whole point is that, over a period, increases in productivity will lead to lower working time hours, but it’s not going to be forced on the NHS,” he argued.

He also insisted he had the stamina to serve a full five-year term as prime minister – when it was pointed out that, at 70, he would be the oldest newcomer to the office in 150 years.

“I’m very healthy, very fit and very active and I’ve travelled more than any other party leader in this election,” Mr Corbyn said.

“I’ve attended more events than any other party leader in this election, and I’ve still not finished yet. We’ve got another two days to go and I’ll be out on the road the whole time – right up till 10 o’clock on Thursday night.”

He added: “And I eat porridge every morning – if that’s a help.”

Many Labour candidates have declined to put Mr Corbyn’s face on their election leaflets, but he rejected suggestions that he is a “problem on the doorstep”.

“It’s not a presidential election, it’s a parliamentary election in which we elect members of parliament,” he said. 


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