Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to work towards preventing a no-deal Brexit “national disaster”, describing negotiations as currently in a “perilous state.”
Corbyn’s trip to Brussels was initially for the sole purpose of attending the naming of a square in honor of Jo Cox – a Labour MP who was murdered in 2016.
However, EU negotiators are reportedly keen to meet with Corbyn to discuss Labour’s Brexit stance and strategy, to prepare for the possibility of the party rising to power in a snap general election and eventually leading withdrawal talks with the bloc.
Various Labour politicians have given their suggestions on how the party should approach Brexit, with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry on Wednesday urging Corbyn to pledge to extend the negotiating period in their election manifesto, giving negotiators more time to reach a compromise while still pursuing Brexit.
Meanwhile, other senior party officials have said a referendum giving the electorate an opportunity to vote to remain in the EU shouldn’t be ruled out, though it is unclear if Corbyn is receptive of this idea.
Ahead of the scheduled meetings on Thursday, Corbyn stressed the need for the government to provide “clarity” to businesses, adding that a hard Brexit is likely to severely damage the UK economy.
“With just weeks of negotiating time left, it’s clear that UK-EU Brexit talks are in a perilous state. Time is running out and companies are losing patience with the absence of any clarity from the government,” he said in a statement.
“Crashing out of Europe with no deal risks being a national disaster. That is why I’m meeting EU officials today, and I will be urging them to do all they can to avoid a ‘no-deal’ outcome, which would be so damaging to jobs and living standards in both the UK and EU countries.”