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2019-09-23 11:26:21

Jeremy CorbynGetty

The Labour party's annual conference in Brighton has been thrown into chaos over leader Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to back remaining in the EU under all circumstances.Shadow ministers and the mayor of London openly attacked Corbyn's attempt to force a compromise position on Brexit which would not commit the party to backing Remain in a second referendum until a special conference was held after a general election.Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said: I don't see why we can't make the decision now. I think that this conference should thrash it out. Michael Chessum, a pro-European party activist, told Business Insider: Labour members are not going to tolerate another fudge for another year. Potential successors to Corbyn have been setting out their stalls as discontent with his leadership grows.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND — Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has been plunged into fresh crisis after he refused to turn the Labour party into an explicitly anti-Brexit movement.

Three shadow Cabinet ministers, MPs, the Mayor of London, and large numbers of activists formed part of an angry backlash at the party's annual conference in Brighton, against Corbyn's attempt to force through his own compromise Brexit position which would not commit the party to remaining in the EU under all circumstances.

The Labour leader wants to go into the next election, which is widely expected before the end of the year, pledging to renegotiate Theresa May's Brexit before offering voters a second referendum between that deal and remaining in the EU.

However, Corbyn does not want to commit to campaigning to Remain in that referendum, and has suggested he could personally take a neutral position.

Labour delegates attending the conference lined up to call on Corbyn to adopt an explicitly pro-Remain position by the end of the annual meeting.

He now faces the prospect of trying to force through his position using the bloc votes of big unions in defiance of Labour members, the vast majority of whom support Remain.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, was one of growing numbers of Cabinet minister who openly criticised Corbyn's position, which threatens to tip into open rebellion against the embattled leader.

We're all here, she said.

I don't see why we can't make the decision now. I think that this conference should thrash it out.

Thornberry, was joined by Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Labour's Deputy Leader Tom Watson, and London mayor Sadiq Khan whp also attended a People's Vote rally on Saturday in support of a second referendum.

Khan warned on Sunday that staying neutral on Brexit was not an option.

In a direct challenge to the leader, he wrote: I'm making a direct appeal to delegates at Labour conference: do not accept any compromise on Brexit, do not accept a fudge, do not delay us setting out what our stance would be in any future referendum.

Activists also pointed out that the vast majority of local constituency Labour parties [CLPs] had submitted motions in favour of Labour adopting an explicitly Remain position.

We don't need a special conference after the election to decide our policy, Michael Chessum, a pro-European Labour activist, told Business Insider.

We have a conference literally right now at which 90 CLPs have submitted anti-Brexit policies. We know what our members think about Brexit, we know what trade unions think about Brexit, we know what our voters think about Brexit.

We need to go into this general election with our voters and our members reassured that we understand them and are on their side when it comes to the main issue of the day.

Labour members are not going to tolerate another fudge for another year.

Labour members are not going to tolerate another fudge for another year.

The leadership was rocked on Sunday by the revelation that Corbyn's policy adviser Andrew Fisher, who wrote the 2017 Labour manifesto, had resigned. In a damning memo obtained by the Sunday Times, Fisher accused staff in the leader's office of lack of professionalism, competence and human decency and their blizzard of lies and excuses.

On the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Corbyn suggested the UK could be better off outside the EU, saying it depends on the agreement you have with the European Union outside.

He added: I will go along with whatever decision the party comes to.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Join here.


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