UK Politics

What is Labour's Brexit plan?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn say his party's priority is to block a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. If he achieves this aim, Mr Corbyn says he will back an early election with a pledge to hold a referendum should the party win power.

But other Labour senior figures favour a different approach. At the party's annual conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn is expected to face increasing pressure to back Remain in any future public vote.

So where does the Labour Party stand on Brexit?

Stopping no deal

To prevent a possible no-deal Brexit, Labour threw its weight behind legislation that aims to force the government to ask the European Union (EU) to extend the Brexit deadline.

Labour also acted against no-deal by opposing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call to hold an early general election. The prime minister can only trigger an early election if he has the support of at least two-thirds of all MPs.

While Labour says it wants a general election, Jeremy Corbyn says they won't support an early poll until the threat of leaving without a deal has been removed.

A temporary government

Mr Corbyn has also left open the option of a no confidence vote in the government - in which MPs would be asked whether they want it to continue - remains "very much there on the table".

The Labour leader has previously said he would introduce such a motion "when we can be confident of success".

If the Conservative government was to fall as a result, Mr Corbyn would have 14 days to get enough support from MPs to head a temporary government.

In such circumstances Mr Corbyn has said he would request a further Brexit extension (if one was still needed) and call a general election.

A new referendum

If an election is called, Labour says it would go into a campaign arguing for a further referendum.

If a new public vote was to happen, Labour says voters will be able to choose between a "credible Leave option" and Remain.

But Labour has not said if it will commit to either Leave or Remain during any campaign.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A pro-EU march took place at Labour's party conference last year

Until July, Labour had resisted outright support for another referendum. Its deputy leader, Tom Watson, said "ambiguity" over the party's Brexit policy had cost it votes at the European elections in May.

What would a Labour Leave option look like?

Mr Corbyn says Labour will negotiate a Brexit deal which maintains a very close trading relationship with the EU. This would be achieved by staying in a customs union and keeping close alignment to the single market.

That would mean the UK would be able to continue trading with EU without tariffs (taxes on imports) being applied.

It would also reduce the need for checks, making it less likely that an Irish backstop would be needed. The Irish border problem has been a major sticking point for Brexit.

However, being in a customs union would prevent the UK from striking its own trade deals with other countries on goods - such as the US.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former Labour minister Caroline Flint urged Jeremy Corbyn not to call for another Brexit referendum

Coping with divisions

Just like the Conservative Party, Labour has had to deal with internal divisions over its Brexit policy.

Many Labour MPs who represent parts of the country where most people voted Leave are unhappy with the party's shift on supporting a referendum.

More than 25 Labour MPs wrote to Mr Corbyn in June, saying another public vote would be "toxic to our bedrock Labour voters". They urged the party leadership to back a Brexit deal before 31 October.

On the other hand, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, have said remaining would be the best thing for the UK - even if the other option is a Labour-negotiated Brexit deal.

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