Jeremy Corbyn insists result of Brexit referendum must be respected


Labour must "abide by" the decision of voters who opted to leave the European Union in the recent referendum, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

In one of the clearest indications yet that he will not seek to overturn the result of the June 23 poll, the Labour leader told Huffington Post that voters had "clearly said no" and that Leave supporters would have to "work our way round that".

His comment comes days after he was repeatedly challenged by leadership rival Owen Smith to join him in demanding a second referendum on whatever deal emerges from Brexit negotiations.

In a head-to-head debate in Cardiff on Thursday, the Labour leader would say only that the issue of Brexit was likely to feature in the next general election.

Mr Corbyn backed Leave in the referendum campaign but has been accused by some critics of mounting only a half-hearted defence of Britain's EU membership.

Asked whether he thought that it would be undemocratic to seek to overturn the result, either through a second referendum or an election, Mr Corbyn told the Huffington Post: "I think we've had a referendum, a decision has been made, you have to respect the decision people made. We were given the choice, we after all supported holding a referendum so we must abide by the decision.

"Does that mean that we don't have a future relationship with the European Union? No, it means the opposite. There has to be a very strong relationship so I think there has to be a question of access to the single European market."

Pressed on whether there was any question of keeping the UK's EU membership, the Labour leader said: "They clearly have said 'no'. Is there a way of having a European Economic Area agreement, possibly via Norway and other countries? Yeah there probably is.

"So I'm meeting the Norwegian Labour party in September, they are bringing a delegation to Britain. The idea being we have a discussion with them about their experience, what they do and how they relate to the European Union. It's a serious effort to try to work out how we do things in the future.

"In the meantime, there has to be a defence of jobs and there has to be a preparedness by our Government to intervene where necessary, such as in the steel industry."

He added: "It has happened: the Remain campaign didn't get the majority, the Leave campaign did so we've got to work our way round that. And that means crucially speeding up the negotiations for future market access for manufacturing industries particularly in Britain and if we don't speed up that discussion to give some degree of certainty for future market access, then I'd get very worried about industries in Britain that cannot easily switch to another market. And also what kind of trade structure we are going to have in the future."