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Britain’s Opposition Labour backs new election over Brexit impasse 

Liverpool, September 23

Britain’s opposition Labour Party prefers a new election to a second referendum on Brexit, its leader said on Sunday, heaping pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May whose plans for a deal with the EU have hit an impasse.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has so far resisted calls to back a “People’s Vote”, or new referendum on the decision to quit the EU.

But the political landscape has changed since May was ambushed by the European Union on Thursday over her plans for Brexit, the biggest shift in British policy for more than four decades. 

With talk of a new election swirling after May’s “Chequers” plan was all but shredded at an EU summit in Austria last week and chances of Britain exiting the bloc without a deal rising, Labour is under pressure to start setting the Brexit agenda.

Corbyn, a veteran eurosceptic who in 1975 voted “No” to Britain’s membership of the then-European Community, said while he would listen to a debate about any possible second vote on Britain’s membership, he preferred a snap election if May failed to get a deal that Labour could support in Parliament.

“Our preference would be for a General Election and we can then negotiate our future relationship with Europe but let’s see what comes out of conference,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, saying Labour was ready to vote against any deal.

“We would vote it down if it didn’t meet our tests in order to send the government, if it is still in office, straight back to the negotiating table and if there is a general election and we are in office we would go straight to the negotiating table.” 

Corbyn’s close ally, Len McCluskey, leader of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, told the BBC any such second referendum “shouldn’t be on: ‘do we want to go back into the European Union?’” as that had been answered in the 2016 referendum.

Britain is to exit the EU in March. After weeks of both sides making positive noises about prospects of clinching a divorce deal and their future trading relationship, the mood turned sour on Thursday in Salzburg, Austria, when the bloc’s leaders, one by one, came out to criticise May’s Chequers plan.

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